Q How is the alliance different from other charity evaluators?
A Other national charity evaluators focus on financial ratios and provide a grade or rating solely based on these figures. The chief difference is that Alliance evaluations take into account much more than finances. The Standards for Charity Accountability include important financial aspects of a charity’s activities, but also address other areas that public surveys show are of concern to donors, such as board oversight, appeal accuracy and donor privacy. In the Alliance’s view, focusing only on finances can provide a false positive. A charity with impressive financial ratios could be facing significant problems in other aspects of its operations.
Q Does the Alliance rate or grade charities?
A No. Charities are not rated against one another. An Alliance evaluation concludes either that a charity meets all the standards or does not meet certain ones, for reasons described in the report. Whatever the conclusion, the report does not represent approval or disapproval of the organization or its cause. The Alliance does not suggest that prospective contributors give or not give to any particular organization.
Q How does the BBB Wise Giving Alliance decide which charities to review?
A Inquiries from the public about a particular national charity prompt an Alliance letter requesting that the charity file information for a review. These inquires comes to us directly, by mail, phone and e-mail, and in referrals from local Better Business Bureaus. In addition, charities may file information for a review on their own initiative. In either case, the Alliance determines that the charity is soliciting nationally before it request information. There is no charge for evaluation.
Q What happens in the evaluation process?
A Charities authorized to participate in the program complete an interactive questionnaire online. Documents such as audited financial statements, annual report and the IRS Form 990 are also provided by regular or electronic mail. A computer program does a preliminary report, flagging areas that need additional scrutiny by Alliance analysts.
Q Do charities that are evaluated have a chance to see the Alliance report before it is made available to the public?
A Yes. A draft report is always sent to the charity in advance, with an invitation to review and comment within three weeks. Sometimes a charity is able to clear up initial concerns based on additional information provided.
Q Do most charities hat the Alliance reviews meets all of its standards?
A Yes. Quite consistently over time, about 60-65% of the charities reviewed have met all the standards.
Q Does the Alliance meet its own standards?
A Yes. We review all our operations to make sure that the alliance meets the same standards that are used in evaluating other charities. For example, as our standards recommend, our latest annual report and IRS Form 990 are posted on our website. However, we believe posting an evaluative report on ourselves would not be perceived as neutral reporting.
Q Are the full Alliance reports available to the public?
A Yes. They are available online in their entirety at www.bbb.org/charity. Alliance reports online get over two million hits each year.