Wise Giving Wednesday: Assessing New Charities

By H. Art Taylor
President & CEO BBB Wise Giving Alliance
May 04, 2022

 

One of the strengths of the charitable sector in the United States is the sheer volume of charities. According to the 2020 IRS Data Book (the most current available) during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020, there were a total of 1,404,170 organizations that were tax exempt as charities, under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This included 79,730 new organizations that applied for and received 501 (c)(3) charitable tax exempt status. Although most new charities will be small, some donors may be interested in finding out more about them. The challenge is that until the first 18 months have passed, it is unlikely that their first financial statements (and or IRS Form 990) will be available. BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advice to help potential donors assess brand new organizations.

Check out their website.  Even a brand new charity will likely have a website that includes basic facts about its intended goals and activities. See if there is a clear description of what the organization plans to accomplish. Be wary of vague explanations that do no provide any specifics about how the charity will carry out its efforts.

Find out about board oversight. Although the charity is new, it will have a board of directors that is ultimately in charge of the oversight of the operations and staff. See if the organization’s website has a board roster that identifies who serves on the board and provides their professional affiliations. This may help you determine if the charity’s governing body is being led by individuals that have the knowledge and/or experience in addressing the identified cause.

Review the charity’s privacy policy. See if the website includes a clear and accessible privacy policy that tells visitors (i) what information, if any, is being collected about them by the charity and how this information will be used, (ii) how to contact the charity to review personal information collected and request corrections, (iii) how to inform the charity (e.g., a check off box) that the visitor does not wish his/her personal information to be shared outside the organization, and (iv) what security measures the charity has in place to protect personal information.

Be cautious about emergency appeals. If the charity is raising funds for some type of disaster or other emergency need, it should be able to substantiate that the timing and nature of its expenditures will be in accordance with what is stated, expressed or implied in its solicitations. Also keep in mind that even with the best of intentions, it can be challenging for new charities to address emergency situations unless they have adequate connections or skills to address circumstances at hand.


Video of the Week

As part of the Building Trust Video Series, BBB WGA has produced a video interview with Tim Earley, CEO of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Georgia (a BBB Accredited Charity) which grants wishes to Georgia children, between the ages of 2 1/2 and 18, living with a progressive, degenerative or malignant medical condition that has placed their lives in jeopardy. The organization reports that it grants between 300 and 400 wishes every year.


Heart of Giving Podcast

In this week’s Heart of Giving Podcast, our guest is Diana Byer, the Founder of the New York Theatre Ballet. Diana talks about how she has changed the lives of many at-risk children in New York City through the power of dance. Her LIFT program is the subject of an upcoming film that will soon be premiered at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival.


Recent Reports

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.

 

 


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