42 percent of nationally-soliciting charities that did not meet one or more of the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability in the past year either did not produce an annual report or had a report that did not include all of the recommended information (mission, program service accomplishments, board roster and finances.) To meet the financial information section of this standard, the annual report could include either the full financial statements or, at a minimum, total income, total expenses broken out by programs, fundraising and administration and ending net assets.
BBB Charity Standard 16 calls for charities to have an annual report available to all on request. The objective is to ensure that donors have access to certain basis facts in a single document. Such a report does not have to be a fancy, expensive printed publication — it can be a simple word processed document or a page on the charity’s website that can be printed out for those seeking a hard copy. It should describe what the charity does in clear, layman’s terms, which is why we consider it such a valuable tool — it’s a simple way to get a very good idea of the charity’s work.
We believe the contributing public deserves this type of understandable and accessible transparency. Although the IRS Form 990, the annual information return that most charities are required to file, has become quite accessible on the web, not all donors can easily understand this format. Another limitation is that, in many cases, the program service description included in the IRS Form 990 lacks sufficient detail about the charities activities in the past year.
Those who recognize the potential value of an annual report also know the marketing opportunity it provides to help the charity tell its story.
Video of the Week
As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide a video featuring Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO, American Indian College Fund, (a BBB Accredited Charity) which works to help all Native people meet their potential by providing them with access to a higher education. In the 2016 fiscal year, the organization provided approximately 4,100 scholarships to students seeking to better their lives through higher education. AICF also provides financial and programmatic support for the needs of 34 accredited tribal colleges and universities, ranging from capital support to cultural preservation curricula.
We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving.
Finally, remember to let us know by going to https://www.give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.
H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance