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

Enjoy Pokemon GO… with Caution

In just a few days, Pokemon GO has become the most downloaded phone app in the U.S. The app, which uses mapping software to create a virtual reality game, is getting children and adults out and about in their neighborhoods to “catch” the game characters as they pop up on phone screens from various locations.

Although the game can be a blast, BBB is warning players and parents to be aware of some nuances that go with GO.

Jim Gaffigan Phone

Expenses: It’s possible to play completely cost-free by winning “PokeCoins” (the app’s currency) through gameplay, but you can also purchase the coins through an in-app purchase. The longer you play, the more spending money you need to store and “train” your gathered characters. The app also requires constant GPS access, and it uses a lot of data. After playing for hours every day, consumers with limited data plans may find themselves with a hefty bill at the end of the month.

Privacy: In order to play the game, users must allow the app to access other applications, such as maps and camera. Many users sign in with a Google account, and that has caused some concerns about privacy. The Android version of the game only accesses limited data (such as the user’s email address), but the iOS version for the iPhone can access all Google data. Niantic, the game’s maker, says no personal information has been accessed, and it is issuing a bug fix to correct the problem. Users can create an account through the app itself rather than using an email address to access the game.

Malware: So far, the app is only available in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, which has given cybercriminals an opportunity to capitalize on the demand. A malware version of the game has been found online; although no known infections have been reported. Users should only download the app through official app stores, not third-party sites.

Safety: Players should use the same safety precautions while playing the game that they would in any other outdoor setting, including caution in strange locations. A Missouri police department reported robbers using a secluded “PokeStop” location to rob unsuspecting game players. Players should be cautious as pedestrians and obey all traffic laws, and drivers should be on the lookout for children who may be distracted by the game. The app also drains phone batteries, so users should be careful not to get stranded far from home.

Infringement: PokeStops are supposed to all be on public property (or cooperative private sites), but at least one homeowner has reported that his historic house is mistakenly a PokeStop. Players should be respectful of others’ private property. Future commercial opportunities are anticipated, where stores can offer rare or unique characters to add to the game.