Wise Giving Wednesday: BBB Charity Standards & The Charity Impact Issue

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

As charity impact continues to be a subject of significant interest, I thought it would be helpful to clarify our position on this. First, the subject of charity impact (also called results reporting) has been discussed for decades.  Fifteen years ago we commissioned a survey of over 2,000 adult Americans and found significant public interest in wanting to know about a charity’s success in achieving its purpose or mission. A more recent survey from The Chronicle of Philanthropy shows this interest continues today. When we last revised our BBB Charity Standards with the help of the charity community, we knew this issue needed to be addressed. 

Standards 6 and 7 in the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability call for charities to adopt a governing board policy to conduct a performance or effectiveness assessment at least every two years and to produce a written report on this assessment for the board that explains the charity’s success or impact in fulfilling its mission, goals and objectives.  While we applaud charities that make such reports public, our board emphasis in these standards reflects our continuing concern that a public distribution can sometimes be more promotional in tone. 

These standards do not require charities to conduct expensive long-term or longitudinal studies, but can be achieved by much more modest means.  As an example see the Charting Impact 5-question results-reporting format  recommended in the 2011 collaborative project that BBB WGA had with Independent Sector and GuideStar.  

In the past decade, as we have applied Standards 6 and 7, we have found that most soliciting charities have been able to meet these recommendations. We think we have played a part in helping charities improve their practices but we also recognize that many others have brought thoughtful attention to this subject as well.  I will be writing more on this topic in the future and welcome you to contact me with your perspective, however, if you want to read more on this subject, here are two of our past blogs on this issue: 

On a separate note, as part of our Building Trust Video Series we are pleased to provide a video that features Michelle DeLaune, Chief Operating Officer of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (a BBB Accredited Charity).  This organization works closely with families of missing children to help rescue and recover them and also seeks to help prevent child sexual exploitation.  

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 not on the list and we will do our best to produce one. 

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

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