Wise Giving Wednesday: Building Trust Part 6
On Monday I was honored to share our standards with business executives attending the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals Annual Conference. It was great working with executives charged with charitable investing for their corporations. The ones in my session seemed highly committed to supporting trustworthy charities. In assembling my presentation, I was reminded that the standard failed by the most charities is #16, which calls for the production of an annual report so I thought I would write about it.
The key tenets of the BBB Charity Standards are transparency and accountability. These two principles, when considered together, offer donors a more complete picture of a charity’s operations. Previous #WiseGivingWednesday blogs have focused on the concept of accountability, which involves the inner workings of the board of directors and the charity staff. Transparency, on the other hand, is the charity’s outward-facing image.
Providing the public with descriptive and financial information is an important part of building trust. Standard 16 of the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability calls for charities to produce a printed annual report that includes (a) the charity’s mission, (b) a summary of the year’s program accomplishments, (c) a roster of board members, and (d) financial information for the year including total income, total expenses broken out by programs, fundraising and administration, and ending net assets.
While the IRS requires most of this information in its annual Form 990 filing, which is available to the public, BBB WGA’s annual report standard is designed to provide a more narrative and accessible document that will help the average donor without requiring them to navigate a tax form.
Addressing this issue is not a difficult matter as BBB WGA does not require that the annual report to be a glossy, professionally printed document. It could be a simple word-processed document or a web page with the information that can be printed out and mailed to donors upon request.
Annual reports are by far the simplest way for charities to maintain a measure of transparency with the donating public. In fact, an annual report may benefit a charity by acting as a valuable marketing opportunity to help tell their story and motivate support.
Take a look to see if your favorite charities meet this important standard. For an A-Z directory of reports on nationally-soliciting charities, visit give.org/charity-reviews/national/. To access both local and national charity reports, use the search engine on our homepage give.org.
To keep you up to date, starting today, we are adding a feature to our #WiseGivingWednesday blog. Each post will list some of our most recently completed reports on national charities that seek to verify the trustworthiness of these organizations. Here is the first group:
- National Eating Disorders Association
- Optimist International Foundation
- Resources for Human Development
- Share Our Strength
- U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Finally, let us know by going to https://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