Charity Review

  • Issued: August 2013
  • Expires: May 2016

World Vision

Accredited Charity

Meets Standards


Post Office Box 9716
Federal Way, WA 98063-9716
Accredited Charity


Post Office Box 9716
Federal Way, WA 98063-9716
Accredited Charity

Accredited Charity

Meets Standards

Standards For Charity Accountability


  1. Board Oversight

    Oversight of Operations and Staff: Standard 1

    Organizations shall have a board of directors that provides adequate oversight of the charity's operations and its staff. Indication of adequate oversight includes, but is not limited to, regularly scheduled appraisals of the CEO's performance, evidence of disbursement controls such as board approval of the budget, fund raising practices, establishment of a conflict of interest policy, and establishment of accounting procedures sufficient to safeguard charity finances.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Board Size

    Number of Board Members: Standard 2

    Soliciting organizations shall have a board of directors with a minimum of five voting members.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Board Meetings

    Frequency and Attendance of Board Meetings: Standard 3

    An organization shall have a minimum of three evenly spaced meetings per year of the full governing body with a majority in attendance, with face-to-face participation. A conference call of the full board can substitute for one of the three meetings of the governing body. For all meetings, alternative modes of participation are acceptable for those with physical disabilities.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Board Compensation

    Compensated Board Members: Standard 4

    Not more than one or 10% (whichever is greater) directly or indirectly compensated person(s) serving as voting member(s) of the board. Compensated members shall not serve as the board's chair or treasurer.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Conflict of Interest

    Conflict of Interest: Standard 5

    No transaction(s) in which any board or staff members have material conflicting interests with the charity resulting from any relationship or business affiliation. Factors that will be considered when concluding whether or not a related party transaction constitutes a conflict of interest and if such a conflict is material, include, but are not limited to: any arm's length procedures established by the charity; the size of the transaction relative to like expenses of the charity; whether the interested party participated in the board vote on the transaction; if competitive bids were sought and whether the transaction is one-time, recurring or ongoing.

    The organization meets this standard.

Measuring Effectiveness

  1. Effectiveness Policy

    Board Policy on Effectiveness: Standard 6

    Have a board policy of assessing, no less than every two years, the organization's performance and effectiveness and of determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Effectiveness Report

    Board Approval of Written Report on Effectiveness: Standard 7

    Submit to the organization's governing body, for its approval, a written report that outlines the results of the aforementioned performance and effectiveness assessment and recommendations for future actions.

    The organization meets this standard.


  1. Program Expenses

    Program Service Expense Ratio: Standard 8

    Spend at least 65% of its total expenses on program activities.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Fund Raising Expenses

    Fund Raising Expense Ratio: Standard 9

    Spending should be no more than 35% of related contributions on fund raising. Related contributions include donations, legacies, and other gifts received as a result of fund raising efforts.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Accumulating Funds

    Ending Net Assets: Standard 10

    Avoid accumulating funds that could be used for current program activities. To meet this standard, the charity's unrestricted net assets available for use should not be more than three times the size of the past year's expenses or three times the size of the current year's budget, whichever is higher.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Audit Report

    Financial Statements: Standard 11

    Make available to all, on request, complete annual financial statements prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. When total annual gross income exceeds $500,000, these statements should be audited in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. For charities whose annual gross income is less than $500,000, a review by a certified public accountant is sufficient to meet this standard. For charities whose annual gross income is less than $250,000, an internally produced, complete financial statement is sufficient to meet this standard.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Detailed Expense Breakdown

    Detailed Functional Breakdown of Expenses: Standard 12

    Include in the financial statements a breakdown of expenses (e.g., salaries, travel, postage, etc.) that shows what portion of these expenses was allocated to program, fund raising, and administrative activities. If the charity has more than one major program category, the schedule should provide a breakdown for each category.

    The organization meets this standard.

  6. Accurate Expense Reporting

    Accuracy of Expenses in Financial Statements: Standard 13

    Accurately report the charity's expenses, including any joint cost allocations, in its financial statements. For example, audited or unaudited statements which inaccurately claim zero fund raising expenses or otherwise understate the amount a charity spends on fund raising, and/or overstate the amount it spends on programs will not meet this standard.

    The organization meets this standard.

  7. Budget Plan

    Budget: Standard 14

    Have a board-approved annual budget for its current fiscal year, outlining projected expenses for major program activities, fund raising, and administration.

    The organization meets this standard.

Fund Raising & Info

  1. Truthful Materials

    Misleading Appeals: Standard 15

    Have solicitations and informational materials, distributed by any means, that are accurate, truthful and not misleading, both in whole and in part. Appeals that omit a clear description of program(s) for which contributions are sought will not meet this standard. A charity should also be able to substantiate that the timing and nature of its expenditures are in accordance with what is stated, expressed, or implied in the charity's solicitations.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Annual Report

    Annual Report: Standard 16

    Have an annual report available to all, on request, that includes: (a) the organization's mission statement, (b) a summary of the past year's program service accomplishments, (c) a roster of the officers and members of the board of directors, (d) financial information that includes (i) total income in the past fiscal year, (ii) expenses in the same program, fund raising and administrative categories as in the financial statements, and (iii) ending net assets.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Website Disclosures

    Web Site Disclosures: Standard 17

    Include on any charity websites that solicit contributions, the same information that is recommended for annual reports, as well as the mailing address of the charity and electronic access to its most recent IRS Form 990.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Donor Privacy

    Privacy for Written Appeals & Internet Privacy: Standard 18

    Address privacy concerns of donors by (a) providing in written appeals, at least annually, a means (e.g., such as a check off box) for both new and continuing donors to inform the charity if they do not want their name and address shared outside the organization, (b) providing a clear, prominent and easily accessible privacy policy on any of its websites 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.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Cause Marketing Disclosures

    Cause Related Marketing: Standard 19

    Clearly disclose how the charity benefits from the sale of products or services (i.e., cause-related marketing) that state or imply that a charity will benefit from a consumer sale or transaction. Such promotions should disclose, at the point of solicitation: (a) the actual or anticipated portion of the purchase price that will benefit the charity (e.g., 5 cents will be contributed to abc charity for every xyz company product sold), (b) the duration of the campaign (e.g., the month of October), (c) any maximum or guaranteed minimum contribution amount (e.g., up to a maximum of $200,000).

    The organization meets this standard.

  6. Complaints

    Complaints: Standard 20

    Respond promptly to and act on complaints brought to its attention by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and/or local Better Business Bureaus about fund raising practices, privacy policy violations and/or other issues.

    The organization meets this standard.


World Vision meets the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.


Number of complaints processed by the BBB in last 36 months: 1

Program Service Complaint

The organization addressed the complaint issues brought to its attention:                                                                                                     1

The organization did not address the complaint issues brought to its attention:                                                                                                0

Child Sponsorship

According to World Vision, the children accepted as part of its sponsorship program are selected by community leaders. World Vision staff verifies that the children on these lists are genuinely in need with good potential for benefiting from sponsorship-subsidized programs.  
Information kept by World Vision on sponsored children includes: name; gender; date of birth; general health; parents or relative having primary care responsibilities for the child; occupation of parents or head of household; number of siblings; kind of house child lives in; current grade (if in school); favorite subject; typical foods part of the child's diet regime; and sports, hobbies and other interests expressed by the child. This information is updated by the organization once every 24 months at a minimum.

Projects paid for through funds from sponsors benefit the child directly, his or her family, and the community as a whole. Some of the direct benefits a child may receive include vaccinations, schoolbooks, and payment of school fees. Examples of benefits at the family level are micro enterprise loans and agricultural training. Benefits conferred to the community may take the form of payment of teacher's salaries or drilling of wells for clean water.  
The HopeChild sponsorship program allows individuals to sponsor a child specifically located in a community impacted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Benefits of this program include healthcare, care for sick or dying parents, and HIV/AIDS prevention and counseling.
World Vision asks sponsors to commit to contributing $35 per month for children and $35 per month for a HopeChild—World Vision also has sponsors for families, but new sponsorship opportunities for families are not available. World Vision also solicits sponsors for additional gifts at other times, such as before the child's birthday or in conjunction with holidays. Individual sponsors, through their own initiative, may request to send special gifts to help benefit the child/family. The full amount from these gifts is conveyed to the child/family in accordance with the wishes of the sponsor.  
Annual progress reports accompanied by a new picture of the child are sent to all sponsors. These include information recounting the main news items of interest that have taken place in the child's community over the year. Project reports also often contain a letter from the project manager describing goals that have been accomplished or problems that have been encountered. Room is also provided for the child to write a brief note or draw a picture.  
World Vision also encourages and facilitates exchanges of other correspondence that sponsors may wish to pursue. If the child speaks a language other than English, any translation needed of letters from sponsors is performed by project staff. Ideally, the child will be the one to correspond with the sponsor. However, if the child is too young or cannot write, a relative or a World Vision staff member will help compose the letter. When this is the case, the letter is signed by the adult writing for the child.  


  • Year, State Incorporated

    1950, California

  • Affiliates

    Tower Business Park LLC
    World Vision Foundation
    World Vision Properties LLC
    World Vision Real Properties LLC

  • Stated Purpose

    "to work with children, families, and their communities worldwide to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice."


WV reports that it provides assistance to millions of people in nearly 100 countries around the world, including the U.S. The organization provides assistance to communities to find lasting ways to improve the lives of poor children and families. WV responds to natural disasters and long term humanitarian emergencies by providing emergency assistance to children and families affected by natural disaster and civil conflicts. Some ($498,000 or 10%) of WV's public awareness and education program activities are carried out in conjunction with fund raising appeals.

Relief and rehabilitation 308,006,000
Domestic programs 83,932,000
Public awareness and education 4,954,000
Child Sponsorship 262,921,000
Other international programs 242,783,000
Total Program Expenses: $902,596,000

Governance & Staff

  • Chief Executive

    Richard Stearns, President

  • Compensation*


  • Chair of the Board

    James F. Bere, Jr.

  • Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation

    Chairman and CEO, Alta Resources

  • Board Size


  • Paid Staff Size


*2010 compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.

Fund Raising

Method(s) Used:

WV incurred joint costs of $6,576,000 for informational materials and activities that included fund raising materials. Of those costs $3,526,000 was allocated to fund raising expenses, $2,039,000 was allocated to program expenses, and $1,011,000 was allocated to administrative expenses.
Fund raising costs were 11% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $1,000,593,000, are donations received as a result of fund raising activities.)

Tax Status

This organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.


The following information is based on WV's audited financial statements - consolidated - for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2012.

Source of Funds
Contributions 566,726,000
Gifts-in-kind 259,347,000
Public cash and food commodity grants 174,520,000
Other income,net 18,116,000
Total Income $1,018,709,000
  • Programs: 85%
  • Fundraising: 10%
  • Administrative: 5%
Total Income $1,018,709,000
Program expenses 902,596,000
Fundraising expenses $106,977,000
Administrative expenses $52,688,000
Total expenses: $1,062,261,000
Expenses in Excess of Income (-43,552,000)
Beginning Net Assets 148,549,000
Other Changes In Net Assets 4,231,000
Ending Net Assets 109,228,000
Total Liabilities 139,985,000
Total Assets 249,213,000

Note 1: According to audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2012, WV received $303,354,000 of in-kind contributions, medical and pharmaceuticals ($89,312,000), clothing and shoes ($79,789,000), books ($63,230,000), building supplies ($10,761,000), office supplies ($7,200,000), medical supplies ($5,698,000), and other items ($3,357,000) Note 2: According to WV's audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2012, other changes in net assets included pension actuarial gain.

An organization may change its practices at any time without notice. A copy of this report has been shared with the organization prior to publication. It is not intended to recommend or deprecate, and is furnished solely to assist you in exercising your own judgment. If the report is about a charity and states the charity meets or does not meet the Standards for Charity Accountability, it reflects the results of an evaluation of information and materials provided voluntarily by the charity. The name Better Business Bureau is a registered service mark of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

This report is not to be used for fund raising or promotional purposes.