Wise Giving Wednesday: International Charity Accountability

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calendar icon Jul 17, 2020

This past week I was in Oslo, Norway participating in the Annual Meeting of the International Association of Fundraising Organizations (ICFO) which is an international association of 17 national charity monitoring organizations. Their members are standards-based charity reporting organizations that report on charities in other countries as we do in the United States. Last year, BBB Wise Giving Alliance was honored to host their annual gathering. This year the charity review organization in Norway (Stiftelsen Innsamlingskontrollen) held the proceedings.  

At this meeting, there was an initial discussion about revising the existing international standards for ICFO members. As an example, one possible revision identified five common broad areas that ICFO members should continue to address in the charity standards used in their respective countries. Much more deliberations and discussions will take place on this issue.  

  1. Governance - The charity has an independent and active governing body.
  2. Public Benefit - The charity’s activities are directed at fulfilling its mission.
  3. Financials - The charity has financial information that is complete, accurate and provides detail for donors about the use of its resources.
  4. Fundraising - Fundraising practices are ethical, truthful, accurate and not misleading and that fundraising costs are reasonable percentage of funds raised.
  5. Public information - The charity makes information about its activities and results freely available to the public 

In turn, our own BBB Standards for Charity Accountability address these areas and more. Standards provide an objective and consistent framework that help not only in assuring the public of the trustworthiness of soliciting organizations but also encourage charities to strengthen their own practices. 

It is encouraging to know that the BBB WGA approach to charity accountability is shared around the globe by others that seek to engage in similar efforts in their own nations.  Perhaps it should not be surprising that basic ethical practices are universally recognized as a fundamental part of acceptable philanthropic behavior.  Charity materials should be accurate, financials should be complete, and information should be accessible.

On a separate note, as part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide the following video that features Ellie Hollander, President & CEO of Meals on Wheels America (a BBB Accredited Charity) which supports more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior hunger and isolation. 

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://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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