News & Updates

Wise Giving Wednesday: Top Five Reasons Charities Don’t Meet Standards

Oct 13, 2021

Top 5 Standards

Of the charities that provide requested information, the majority (73%) are able to meet all 20 BBB Charity Standards. It also appears, however, that many charities have more work to do to satisfy the expectations of donors.  For all charities that did not meet one or more standards, BBB WGA has found that the most frequent issues are as follows:

Annual Reports (Standard 16)

Donors should be able to receive, in a single document, certain basic facts about the charity.  Such a report does not have to be a fancy, expensive publication – it can be a simple word-processed document or a page on the charity’s website.  It just has to 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.

Board Policy on Results Reporting (Standard 6)

This standard calls for a board policy for periodic self-assessment of the charity’s progress toward addressing its mission. We believe it is essential that organizations regularly make time to assess their past performance and define their future goals and actions. The charity should have a board-approved policy that commits to evaluating (at least every 2 years) the success and impact of its program(s) in fulfilling the charity’s mission.

Effectiveness/ Results Report (Standard 7)

This standard seeks to ensure the charity’s governing body has received and reviewed a written report on its effectiveness assessment (in other words, how well it is addressing its mission.)  This assessment is not to be confused with the charity’s annual report described in Standard 16 above. If a charity does not already have such an assessment and seeks guidance, it can use the common reporting framework developed by Charting Impact, a joint project of BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Independent Sector and Candid/GuideStar. These are five specific and substantive questions that, when completed and shared with the board, fulfills this standard.

Board Meetings (Standard 3)

Standard 3 calls for charity governing boards to meet no less than three times per year with a majority in attendance on average at those meetings.  Engagement of decision-makers in charity activity is essential to ensure that an organization is on the right path. Of the three meeting minimum, one of these meetings can be by phone as long as official minutes are taken. In addition, this standard accepts video conferencing as an “in-person” meeting of the board as long as everyone can see each other. This standard has consistently been in the top noncompliance findings long before the pandemic. Thanks to Zoom and other video conferencing, so far, we have seen no significant increase in the percentage of charities found not to meet this standard.  

Donor Privacy (Standard 18)

This standard calls for charities to address donor privacy concerns by offering donors who receive written appeals the opportunity to inform the charity they do not want their name and address shared outside the organization.  This is usually found in appeals on the donor reply form as a check box.  Also, charity websites should include a privacy policy that addresses four specified elements (1) what information is being collected about me and how will it be used, (2) can I see this information and request corrections? (3) how do I inform the charity I do not want this information shared outside the organization? (4) what security measures are in place to protect this data?  The most frequent reason a charity does not meet this standard is because the website’s privacy policy is either absent or does not include one or more of these elements

To learn more about the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability and how they are applied, visit this page


Video of the Week

As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide a video interview featuring Saleem Zaru, Executive Director, United Palestinian Appeal (a BBB Accredited Charity) that works to assist impoverished Palestinians through its four program areas: community and economic development, education, health and wellness, and outreach. The organization states that it launches its own programs and builds long-term relationships with partners in Palestinian territories, the refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan, and the world at large.


Heart of Giving Podcast

In this week’s Heart of Giving Podcast, our guest Cindy Lott, an Associate Professor of Professional Practice and Academic Director, Nonprofit Management, at Columbia University, discusses the growing need and importance of educating the future leaders in the non-profit sector and the options available to make sure that our sector is in capable hands to face future challenges.

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.

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