By Jennifer McGlothen
Before we answer that question, let’s affirm that the Better Business Bureau offers accreditation to charitable organizations. Yes, we do! That is a little known fact about BBB services.
It may also be a surprise to know that only about 30% of donors do any research before donating to a charity, which leaves an overwhelming majority vulnerable to scams. Several sources state that charity fraud is on the rise. It certainly doesn’t help that the IRS has a simplified version of the application form for tax exempt status for some groups, and also reduced the processing fee. So, the number of new charities is rising dramatically. It is vitally important that information is available to help donors make wise giving decisions. Equally important is for organizations to be accountable and transparent in providing this information. BBB Charity Review is a solution on both counts.
The charity review program of the Kansas City BBB began in 2009. Since 2012 when I came on board, one of the main challenges that I hear about from organizations is how to build awareness. BBB Charity Review can also help charities in this area. The BBB brand is strong, recognizable and communicates trust.
Charity review is a free service, providing an avenue for charities to demonstrate accountability and for donors to make informed giving decisions. We produce reports about local / regional charities, evaluating them against comprehensive BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability.
What is the BBB Wise Giving Alliance?
BBB WGA reports on nationally soliciting charities that the public has most often asked about as well as charities that request to be evaluated. Give.org reports on about 1,300 nationally soliciting charities. In addition, about half of the 112 Better Business Bureaus in the United States and Canada (Kansas City BBB being one of them) cumulatively produce reports on over 10,000 locally soliciting charities using the same BBB Charity Standards as BBB WGA. Charities can be searched at give.org.
How does a charity become accredited?
A great first step is to review the BBB Charity Accountability Standards to make sure your organization is prepared to meet them. Here are abbreviated infographics to get a basic visual overview of the standards. Please visit How We Accredit Charities for details.
Next step is to submit an enrollment form at https://www.give.org/enroll-your-charity?BureauID=0674 , after which access to our online questionnaire based on the standards is provided.
The questionnaire is completed, financial statements, an annual report and samples of fundraising appeals are uploaded. After evaluation, BBB provides an initial review and where possible works with an organization to allow an opportunity to meet any standards not met. A charity must meet all 20 standards covering governance, effectiveness, finances and fundraising for accreditation. A draft report is provided for review prior to publishing.
As long as a charity meets all standards, there is the OPTION to license the seal for use on the organization’s website and fundraising materials. The licensing fee is annual, $125, $225 or $325 depending on organization revenue. All accredited charities are included in promotional efforts of the Kansas City BBB, whether they license the seal or not.
Here’s what staff members of accredited organizations have to say:
Assistance League of Kansas City® fulfills specific unmet needs of children and adults in the Kansas City area through ten philanthropic programs developed, funded and operated by dedicated volunteers and community partners.
“BBB accreditation adds tremendous credibility for our business, The RESALE Shop, which is our main fundraiser for our programs, and also helped us with transparency to our donors.”
~ Cindy McGinnis, Strategic Planning Chairman
Angel Flight Central serves people in need by arranging charitable flights for health care or other humanitarian purposes.
“The review process was, and continues to be an OUTSTANDING exercise for our organization to go through – and regardless of the outcome, we are operating more efficiently, effectively and transparently as a result of the review questions. The challenge attracts great conversation, planning and continuous evolving. It’s a low-cost, healthy exercise that can only lead to positive results. We very much look forward to utilizing all of BBB’s resources for our daily operations. Highly recommended for all non-profit organizations!”
~Brendan Sneegas, Director of Outreach & Development
First Call Alcohol / Drug Prevention & Recovery It is the mission of First Call to reduce the impact of alcohol, drugs and addiction by providing quality resources to individuals, families and the community.
“In 2014, First Call Alcohol/Drug Prevention & Recovery applied and became a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity. As a non-profit we believe it is very important to stay transparent to both the people we serve and the people who support our work. The BBB Charity Accreditation process provides a robust look at the work of nonprofit agencies. From financials to governing boards to the services agencies provide, you can find all of the information on their Review Page. With our 60th anniversary coming next year, we feel it is vital to ensure the citizens of the Kansas City Metro learn about us in as many ways as possible, and the BBB Charity Accreditation is an important part of this mission.”
~Melissa Gard, Administrative & Operations Manager
To view BBB accredited Kansas City charities click here.
Back to our title question, we are hopeful that the comments of our accredited charities have provided answers. And if that’s not enough, here are more reasons why BBB charity accreditation is a cost-effective marketing tool that should not be overlooked.
- 98% of the public is familiar with the BBB brand
- Strengthens overall operations
- Demonstrates commitment to accountability beyond legal requirements
- Reassures donors that contributions are used effectively
- Attracts new donors
- Free of charge
Whether you’re a donor, board member or on staff at a charitable organization, we hope you’ll find reason to be familiar with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and BBB Charity Review. Go to give.org for more information.