Wise Giving Wednesday: A Look at the Future of Charity Accountability

By H. Art Taylor
President & CEO BBB Wise Giving Alliance
Jul 17, 2020

In an earlier blog, I talked about our 15th anniversary operating under the “BBB Wise Giving Alliance” name. Looking to our work in the coming years, I thought it would be helpful to offer foresight on the theme of charity accountability. Of course, this is a topic that will involve more than one posting. One good place to start is identifying what issues in the past are likely to continue in the years to come.  Here are some thoughts. 

Bad Actors Won’t Disappear .  The recent settlement with the FTC, all 50 states and the District of Columbia that involved dissolving two cancer charities accused of fraudulent behavior, reminds us that bad actors are a continuing challenge to charities that seek to strengthen the public’s trust. Questionable organizations will continue to plague the community in decades to come as they have in decades past.  We all need to be on guard, especially since government resources are limited in terms of addressing such cases. 

Transparency Will Grow in Importance .  In the past few decades, we have seen a continuing growth in the availability of charity information as the IRS Form 990 has become more accessible and charity websites provide details about their activities.  We believe this trend will continue and charities will be prompted to be even more transparent about their activities, goals, results, impact and achievements. The notion of a charity choosing not to disclose information, will become more unacceptable. 

Information Manipulation . As charity financial information has become more accessible, we have also seen a growing challenge in identifying the accuracy and consistency of shared data. For example, we have seen differences in how charity financial information is summarized. Some follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in summarizing financial data, others don’t.  It is likely that such data accuracy differences will extend to other areas as well and may confuse users seeking to make informed giving decisions. 

The lesson learned in the above is that there will be a continuing need for people to rely on third parties that can filter information, such as the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, in seeking to verify charity trustworthiness.  We look forward to continuing to assist both donors and charities in addressing this important objective. 

On a separate note, the video below includes my comments on our 15 th anniversary:

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 https://www.give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ if you are  interested in seeing a report on a charity that has not been evaluated by us and we will do our best to produce one. 

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance

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