Wise Giving Wednesday: Standards Provide an Objective Framework
One of the fundamental components of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance approach to charity evaluation is being objective. We do not comment on the worthiness of any organization or program service. That’s a personal opinion that is outside our scope. We do, however, strongly believe the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability provide an objective framework to help assess charities so that donors can make more informed giving decisions. These standards took more than three years to develop and included input from charities both large and small, accountants, BBBs, government regulators, private foundations, fundraisers, charity trade associations and other experts in philanthropy. A draft version of the proposed standards was available for comment from charities and the public for over a year. Such input was reviewed by an advisory panel before the final version was approved by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance board of directors.
These standards are divided into four issue areas: governance, results reporting, finances, and truthful and transparent communications. Governance is the first section of these standards and in many ways, some view this area as one of the key issues that helps ensure that a charity has adequate oversight of its operations. The standards addressing the governing board should also seek to ensure that it is making objective decisions about carrying out the charity’s mission without being overly influenced due to compensation or related-party transactions.
An aspect of the BBB Charity Standards that is often misunderstood is that they are intended to address the minimum acceptable levels of behavior for a charity soliciting the public. Overall, they cover essential areas that we believe are necessary for verifying an organization’s accountability to donors. Another important feature, as stated in the Preamble to the Standards, “The overarching principle of the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability is full disclosure to donors and potential donors at the time of solicitation and thereafter. However, where indicated, the standards recommend ethical practices beyond the act of disclosure in order to ensure public confidence and encourage giving. As voluntary standards, they also go beyond the requirements of local, state and federal laws and regulations.”
Video of the Week
As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide a video featuring an interview with Andrea J. O’Neill, Executive Director, Lupus Research Alliance (a BBB Accredited Charity) which seeks to find better treatments and support medical research to ultimately prevent and cure systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), a debilitating autoimmune disease.
Heart of Giving PodcastThis week, the Heart of Giving Podcast celebrates back-to-school with a throwback episode with excerpts from former guests discussing their journey in the field of education, their efforts to improve education, and their hopes for the future of education in this country.
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. Our recently evaluated charities include:
Finally, remember to let us know by going to www.give.org/charity-inquiry 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