Q. Why did the Tri-State BBB decide to have a seal
A. The original program was developed by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.The goal of the Alliance seal program is to offer a
highly visible accountability tool that will help inform donors, will assist
charities in establishing their commitment to ethical practices, and will
encourage greater confidence in giving. Many, if not most Americans, have
trouble finding the information they need to evaluate charities and make
decisions about giving. A detailed donor expectations survey of 2,003 Americans
commissioned by the Alliance in the spring of 2001 found that 70% of adult
Americans said it was difficult to tell whether a charity soliciting their
contribution is legitimate. Public attention on charity accountability has grown
in recent years, particularly in the wake of September 11th and a series of high
profile charity scandals. In turn, charities themselves are seeking credible
means to ensure donors that they operate ethically and in accordance with donor
intentions. Moreover, there have been numerous requests from charities over the
years to be able to advise donors that they meet our standards.
Q. Until now charities couldn't tell donors that they met BBB charity
A. That's correct. Local and national charities that meet BBB Wise Giving Alliance Charity Standards have never been permitted to state this fact
in their materials or use the BBB name, due to long-standing policy precluding
use of the BBB name by outside organizations. For reasons cited above, the
Boards of the Alliance and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (which owns
the BBB name) approved a policy change that enables BBBs to introduce a
seal for local charities. The seal is offered as a voluntary option for those organizations that the BBB has determined meet the BBB-WGA
Q. How will a seal assist donors?
A. The seal provides a clear, concise and accessible means
for potential donors to find out if a charity meets the comprehensive
standards established by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Charities that qualify
for the seal will be able to display the seal in printed solicitation materials,
in advertisements, on their web sites and in other approved venues. Furthermore,
the seal will help to extend public awareness of the Alliance's work in charity
Q. How will a seal assist charities?
A. The seal provides charities with a widely recognized
(surveys have shown that 98% of the public is familiar with the BBB) and
meaningful mechanism by which to demonstrate their commitment to accountability
and ethical practices. Display of the seal instantly conveys to the donor the
charity's adherence to strong and comprehensive standards.
Q. How will the seal program be funded?
A. Qualified charities that apply for participation
in the seal program will pay an annual fee. The fee schedule for the Tri-State BBB is $250 annually regardless of the charity size. Fees vary from BBB to BBB.
Q. Which charities are eligible to display the seal?
A. Publicly soliciting charities that are at least
two years old and meet all of the applicable Standards for Charity
Accountability are eligible to apply for the seal. Currently, the BBB
reports on those charities that have been subject of recent public
inquiries. However, if a charity has not yet been evaluated and is interested in
applying for the seal program, the BBB will complete the requisite
evaluation in relation to standards.
Q. How does the seal differ from other charity watchdog reporting
A. The BBB looks beyond "the numbers" while many other
charity watchdogs confine their reports and conclusions solely to the charity's
finances. The BBB evaluates the charity's governance, fund raising
practices, solicitations and informational materials, as well as how it spends
its money. Therefore, compliance with this seal will send a more complete
confirmation of the charity's accountability.
Q. How are charities be permitted to use the seal?
A. Permissible uses of the seal will include the charity's
direct mail appeals, annual report, posters, newspaper and magazine
advertisements, billboards, web sites and television public service
announcements. The web site seal will feature a "click to check" function that
provides a direct hyperlink to the BBB report on the
Q. Will the BBB continue to report on charities that do
not apply for the seal and/or do not meet standards?
A. Yes, the BBB will continue to produce reports on
those charities that are the subject of recent inquiries regardless of
whether the subject charity intends to apply for the seal. Reports on both those charities that meet and those organizations that do not meet standards
are freely accessible on the website.
Q. How will the BBB monitor the seal and address seal
A. As with all charity reviews completed by the BBB,
participating charities will be required to submit a variety of support
documents and related information in order for the Alliance to complete an
evaluation in relation to standards including: audited financial statements, IRS
Form 990, bylaws, articles of incorporation, direct mail appeals, brochures,
budgets, board rosters, and tax exempt status determination letters.
Charity evaluations are in effect for 24 months. However, they could be
amended at any time based on new information or a change in charity practice.
The BBB staff will routinely monitor seal holder organizations for
adherence to seal program requirements. In addition, the BBB will also
conduct Internet monitoring for unauthorized use of the seal online. Further,
the BBB will promptly investigate and act on any donor and/or charity
complaints related to seal usage.
If a charity participating in the seal program is found to no longer
meet the standards, the subject organization would be required to remove the
seal from their website and to cease distribution of any printed materials that
displayed the seal logo. The BBB also would alert the public to any seal
abuses through prominent website notices, press releases and other information