Information on the Development of the Standards


After a three-year period, drawing on independent research on donor expectations, professional and technical assistance from a variety of philanthropic experts, and numerous comments from donors and charities, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance issued the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. These standards are used by both the BBB WGA in reviewing nationally-soliciting charities and by BBBs that review regionally-soliciting charities.

These standards apply to publicly-soliciting organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and to other organizations conducting charitable solicitations. The standards are not intended to apply to private foundations (as they do not solicit contributions from the public) or colleges and universities (as most primarily limit solicitations to alumni).

The overarching principle of the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability is full disclosure to donors and potential donors at the time of solicitation and thereafter. However, where indicated, the standards recommend ethical practices beyond the act of disclosure in order to ensure public confidence and encourage giving. As voluntary standards, they also go beyond the requirements of local, state and federal laws and regulations.

In addition to the specific areas addressed in the standards, the BBB encourages charitable organizations to adopt the following management practices to further the cause of charitable accountability.

  • Initiate a policy promoting pluralism and diversity within the organization's board, staff, and constituencies. While organizations vary widely in their ability to demonstrate pluralism and diversity, every organization should establish a policy, consistent with its mission statement, that fosters such inclusiveness.
  • Ensure adherence to all applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations including submission of financial information.
  • Maintain an organizational adherence to the specific standards cited below. BBB Wise Giving Alliance also encourages charities to maintain an organizational commitment to accountability that transcends specific standards and places a priority on openness and ethical behavior in the charity's programs and activities.
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