Top 10 Charities That Should Raise a Red Flag for Donors

Teach for America, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation included in BBB WGA’s list

BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA) released a list of the 10 largest charities (ranked by Fiscal Year 2014 total contributions) that failed to disclose any of the requested information needed to verify the charity’s trustworthiness. The list includes recognizable charities, including Teach for America, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. A charity’s failure to disclose important information relevant to BBB WGA evaluation should be a red flag for donors, and the BBB WGA urges donors to avoid charities that dodge transparency.

“Transparency is the mark of a well-run charity,” said H. Art Taylor, CEO and President of BBB WGA. “Failure to disclose important operations information demonstrates a complete disregard to the importance of trust.

The majority of charities agree to an evaluation, and it’s concerning when charities refuse. Failure to disclose information isn’t just about snubbing the BBB WGA reporting process —these charities are snubbing the people and donors who are asking BBB WGA to verify the charity’s trustworthiness.

We know that publicly-available financial information is simply not enough for BBB WGA to evaluate a charity’s trustworthiness, which is why we evaluate charities on 20 unique standards that also examine a charity’s governance, effectiveness reporting and fund-raising practices, among other issues.”

BBB WGA is releasing its list of top Transparency Dodgers to uncover some of the largest national charities that fail to disclose critical information and underscore the importance of donors researching before they give.

BBB WGA conducts rigorous, comprehensive evaluations on thousands of charities to help donors ensure that the money and time they donate is being spent wisely. To see if your favorite charity is transparent, visit Give.org to check out BBB WGA’s free charity reports.

Full list of BBB WGA’s Top 10 Transparency Dodgers:

(ranked by FY 2014 total contributions)

  1. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  2. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  3. Teach For America
  4. NeighborWorks America
  5. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  6. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  7. City Year
  8. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  9. Pact
  10. Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Top 10 Transparency Dodgers

Fundraising Events: Advice for Donors

Fall is approaching , and many of us look forward to time spent outdoors with family and friends. As the variety of fundraising events varies from one charitable organization to another, donors have more opportunities to choose. These include walkathons or races, concerts, raffles as well as other games, auctions, and galas.

But before you go, there are a few things to consider when handing over your cash.  Here are some helpful questions and answers you might ask:

Q: What charity or charities does the event sponsor?

A: Some events are sponsored by a single charity; others may involve several different organizations partnering for a shared cause.

Q: What activities or programs do the benefiting charities provide?

A: Don’t assume you can tell what the charity does from the name alone. Check out the nature of the charity’s program service activities. How is it specifically addressing the problem or need the event is promoting?

Q: How much of the money collected will go to the benefiting organization(s)?

A: This depends on how the event is organized. Is the charity one among a number of benefiting groups for the event? Did they organize it themselves or hire an outside fund raising firm? Whatever the circumstances, the charity should be able to clearly explain its answer to this question to all participants and donors.

Q: Is my participation fee or donation tax-deductible?

A: IRS Publication 526 explains that, for a charity event such as a banquet or ball, you can deduct only the amount that is more than the fair-market-value of the benefits you receive. For example, if you pay $100 for a ticket to a charity fund raising dinner at a hotel, and the usual price for a similar meal at the hotel is $25, then only $75 of the ticket would be deductible. In most instances, the charity will disclose the amount of the purchase that is deductible on the event information.

Remember to research the organization with the BBB first. Visit BBBDenverNonprofits.org to find local BBB Accredited Charities.

Bayaud Enterprises Named BBB Nonprofit of the Month

DENVER–BBB serving Denver/Boulder is pleased to congratulate Bayaud Enterprises for being named our June Nonprofit of the Month. Currently operating out of offices in Denver, Bayaud Enterprises set the mission to create “Hope, Opportunity and Choice”, with work as the means through which people with disabilities and other barriers to employment can more fully participate in the mainstream of life.

Bayaud Enterprises has been changing the lives of thousands of individuals in the Denver community by providing employment training, assessment, coaching, placement and job mentoring services since 1969.

Bayaud Enterprises has been a BBB Accredited Charity for six years, meeting all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Bayaud Enterprises won the BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Trust in the large nonprofit category in 2014.

BBB Serving Denver/Boulder charity review program was developed to help donors make informed giving decisions and to promote high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public. BBB reviews 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations using the BBB Standards or Charity Accountability. These standards go beyond the requirements of local, state, and federal laws and regulations and cover four areas:

  • Governance and Oversight
  • Measuring Effectiveness
  • Finances
  • Fund Raising and Informational Materials

“With multiple programs offered to the Denver community to combat barriers to employment,” says Kim States, BBB Denver/Boulder CEO. “Bayaud Enterprises is a fantastic example of a nonprofit that is truly impacting the future of our community and the generations to come.”

In recognition of the Charity of the Month honor, BBB compiled a short video about Bayaud Enterprises. The video can be found athttps://youtu.be/Rpgs2xEI3WY or on the BBB Denver/Boulder YouTube page.

For more information on Bayaud Enterprises, visit http://www.bayaudenterprises.org/ or call 303.830.6885. Bayaud Enterprises is located at 333 W. Bayaud Ave. Denver, CO 80223

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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across North America, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.

BBB Tips to Ensure Wise Giving on Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, the holiday that seeks to pay tribute to those who gave their lives serving in the military, many of us will pay respects to those who died by responding to requests for donations by veterans and military-affiliated organizations.  “As with any charity appeal, we urge donors to exercise caution and do some research before making a giving decision,” recommends H. Art Taylor, President and CEO, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, “Donation requests by veterans groups are high around the Memorial Day holiday.”

As potential donors respond to appeals from such organizations, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advisory tips:

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Mpowered is Named BBB’s Nonprofit of the Month

BBB serving Denver/Boulder is pleased to congratulate mpowered for being named our May Nonprofit of the Month. Mpowered is the only Colorado-based nonprofit resource for individuals and families in Colorado who want to learn about money management and participate in coaching to achieve their personal definition of financial success.

Established in 2002, mpowered has provided programs to help more than 40,000 people make informed financial decisions.  With offices located throughout the metro Denver, mpowered is a leader in financial education and champions financial stability as one of the most important components of a healthy and less stressful lifestyle.

Mpowered has been a BBB Accredited Charity for 14 years, meeting all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. In 2014Mpowered won the BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Trust in the nonprofit category.

BBB Serving Denver/Boulder charity review program was developed to help donors make informed giving decisions and to promote high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public. BBB reviews 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations using the BBB Standards or Charity Accountability. These standards go beyond the requirements of local, state, and federal laws and regulations and cover four areas:

  • Governance and Oversight
  • Measuring Effectiveness
  • Finances
  • Fund Raising and Informational Materials

“Mpowered is an incredibly vital resource to those with any type of financial question.  With services that include financial coaching, personal finance classes, debt management and more, mpowered creates a path and map to help clients reach financial liberation. We celebrate their continued hard work in addressing financial education and bringing awareness to financial stability,” says Kim States, BBB Denver/Boulder CEO.

In recognition of the Charity of the Month honor, BBB compiled a short video about mpowered. The video can be found on the BBB Denver/Boulder YouTube page at https://youtu.be/l9n0KZT8OM4

For more information on mpowered, visit http://www.mpoweredcolorado.org/

Mpowered is located at 2009 Wadsworth Blvd, Ste. 100, Lakewood, Colorado, 80214

Ecuador Earthquake Donation Tips

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With hundreds killed and thousands injured by the devastating earthquake in Ecuador over the weekend, generous Americans are already seeking ways to support those in need through donations. BBB Wise Giving Alliance advises donors to avoid being taken advantage of by questionable solicitations or wasting their money on poorly managed relief efforts.

“The news out of Ecuador is heartbreaking,” said H. Art Taylor, president and CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. “People want to help as soon as possible, and that is wonderful, but donors need to follow some key rules about supporting disaster relief so that their gifts get to those who need them most.”

Across the world, relief and development organizations and governments have begun responding to the earthquake in Ecuador. American charities have also begun accepting donations to assist in the region. BBB WGA suggests that before you choose a charity to give to, read this Disaster Relief Donations tip (below) and remember to check out the charity on Give.org.

BBB WGA has a list of nationally soliciting charities that have been accredited by BBB WGA (i.e., meet all 20 BBB Charity Standards), and indicate that they are collecting contributions to assist Ecuador relief efforts. The list, which will be updated as more charities join the efforts, is available at bbb.org/ecuador

BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers donors these tips for disaster relief giving:

Be cautious when giving online. Be cautious about spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. If you want to give to a charity involved in relief efforts, go directly to the charity’s website.

Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity. Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other websites, as they may not have fully researched the relief organizations they list. The public can go to www.give.org to research relief organizations and other charities to verify that they are accredited by the BBB which means they meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. If a charity claims 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting earthquake victims, the truth is that the organization is still probably incurring fund raising and administrative expenses. It may use some of its other funds to pay these costs, but the expenses will still be incurred.

Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas. Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to bring in new aid workers to provide assistance quickly. See if the charity’s website clearly describes what the charity can do to address immediate needs.

Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and giving directly to those that have a presence in the region. Or, at a minimum, check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to see whether they are equipped to provide aid effectively.

Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations. In-kind drives for food and clothing, while well intentioned, may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need – unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to distribute such aid properly. Ask the charity about its transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.

Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence is named BBB’s Nonprofit of the Month

We are pleased to congratulate Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) for being named our April Nonprofit of the Month. SPAN serves the Boulder County and Western Broomfield. SPAN is a human rights organization committed to ending violence against adults, youth and children through support, advocacy, education and community organizing.

Established in 1979, SPAN’s goals for the community include fostering organizational excellence, providing meaningful and effective support and resources to adults, children and youth impacted by interpersonal violence. By implementing violence prevention initiatives, SPAN helps to promote safety, dignity and liberation for all people. Through engagement of individuals, groups, policy makers and the community at large, SPAN’s mission is to unite these groups in efforts that promote economic, racial and social justice.

Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence has been a BBB Accredited Charity for 10 years, meeting all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence won the BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Trust in the nonprofit category in 2014.

BBB Serving Denver/Boulder charity review program was developed to help donors make informed giving decisions and to promote high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public. BBB reviews 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations using the BBB Standards or Charity Accountability. These standards go beyond the requirements of local, state, and federal laws and regulations and cover four areas:

  • Governance and Oversight
  • Measuring Effectiveness
  • Finances
  • Fund Raising and Informational Materials

“SPAN is an incredibly vital resource to those survivors of domestic violence and to helping prevent cases of domestic violence in our community. Through their continuous programming, support and educational efforts, SPAN helps to provide those survivors with safe, stable and self-sufficient lives. We celebrate their continued hard work in addressing domestic violence and bringing awareness to human rights issues,” says Adriana Carmona, BBB Denver/Boulder Nonprofit Program Director

In recognition of the Charity of the Month honor, BBB compiled a short video about Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence. The video can be found on the BBB Denver/Boulder YouTube page at https://youtu.be/qhJ–MLYV9A

For more information on Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, visit http://www.safehousealliance.org/ , or call the administrative line at 303.449.8623 or the 24-hour crisis line at 303.444.2424. Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence is located at 835 North Street in Boulder, CO 80304.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado Named March Nonprofit of the Month

Congratulations to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado for being named our March BBB Nonprofit of the Month! Currently operating out of offices in Denver and Colorado Springs, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado has helped young people overcome tremendous obstacles to become stable, successful adults.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has been the national leader in youth mentoring since its founding in 1904 in New York City. In Colorado, the history began in 1918 with Claude Blake, chief probation officer in Denver, who watched wartime conditions cause an increase in lawlessness among boys in his community. Recognizing that these boys needed guidance more than critics, Blake established Big Brothers of Denver.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado has been a BBB Accredited Charity for 12 years, meeting all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado won the BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Trust in the nonprofit category in 2013.

BBB Serving Denver/Boulder charity review program was developed to help donors make informed giving decisions and to promote high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public. BBB reviews 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations using the BBB Standards or Charity Accountability. These standards go beyond the requirements of local, state, and federal laws and regulations and cover four areas:

  • Governance and Oversight
  • Measuring Effectiveness
  • Finances
  • Fund Raising and Informational Materials

“Through their continued mission of providing youth with mentoring relationships to help them to improve their sense of self, form positive relationships and achieve educational success, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado is a shining example of a nonprofit that is truly impacting the future of our community and the generations to come,” says Adriana Carmona, BBB Denver/Boulder Nonprofit Program Director

In recognition of the Charity of the Month honor, BBB compiled a short video about Big Brother Big Sisters of Colorado. The video can be found on the BBB Denver/Boulder YouTube page at https://youtu.be/7GwJaTT74MQ.

For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado, visit http://www.biglittlecolorado.org/ or call 303.433.6002. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado is located at 1391 Speer Blvd Ste 450 in Denver, CO 80204.

Why Would You Overpay? Oh, it’s a Scam

The “overpayment” scam is back and it doesn’t discriminate…this affects consumers, businesses and also nonprofits.

This classic scam has been around for a while. A scammer sends a check or PayPal wire to you, but then says that they “overpaid.” They then ask you to re-send or re-wire the overpayment to another account, usually giving them access to your bank information and more. From there, the scammers can take all of your money, not just the amount you “sent back.”

BBB offers the following advice to avoid an overpayment scam:

  • Know who you’re dealing with. In any transaction, confirm the buyer/seller/donor name, street address and telephone number.
  • Don’t wire. Never under any circumstances wire funds back to the person, a legitimate buyer/seller/donor will not insist upon this type of request.
  • Never assume that a check is legitimate, even if it’s a cashier’s check. It may take weeks for a financial institution to learn that it is counterfeit.
  • Never accept payment for more than the purchase price of a product or service.
  • Keep in mind, you are the party who is ultimately liable to your financial institution. Verify all checks, as well as certified checks, with the issuing financial institution.

BBB urges any consumer, business or nonprofit that receives such emails not to respond or engage in any way. If you receive a check, do not deposit it and report your experience to your BBB.

 

OUR Center Named BBB’s Nonprofit of the Month for February

BBB serving Denver/Boulder is pleased to congratulate Outreach United Resource (OUR) Center for being named the February Nonprofit of the Month. OUR Center was founded in 1986 and grew out of the Longmont Ministerial Association when church leaders agreed that uniting community resources would give better help to those who needed it.  The OUR Center works closely with many other agencies in the community to assist those in need, especially those in emergency situations. In 2014, the OUR Center served 120,696 meals and distributed 934,700 pounds of emergency groceries to 16,392 households.

OUR Center has been a BBB Accredited Charity since 2004, meeting all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. OUR Center won the BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Trust in the nonprofit category in 2012.

BBB Serving Denver/Boulder charity review program was developed to help donors make informed giving decisions and to promote high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public. BBB reviews 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations using the BBB Standards or Charity Accountability. These standards go beyond the requirements of local, state, and federal laws and regulations and cover four areas:

  • Governance and Oversight
  • Measuring Effectiveness
  • Finances
  • Fund Raising and Informational Materials

“The OUR Center is truly a community-based agency which aligns perfectly with the mission and vision of BBB. Not only does the OUR Center help provide people with clothing and food, but with shelters, child care, transportation, job assistance and more. The OUR Center is a wonderful example of how an organization can impact thousands of people’s lives through community passion, dedication and faith; we are proud to be able to honor them,” says Adriana Carmona, BBB Denver/Boulder Nonprofit Program Director

For more information on OUR Center, visit http://ourcenter.org or call 303.772.5529. OUR Center is located at 303 Atwood Street, Longmont, CO 80501.