How Does Better Business Bureau Accreditation Help Charities?

Before we answer that question, let’s affirm that the Better Business Bureau offers accreditation to charitable organizations. Yes! That is a little known fact about BBB services.  

It may also be a surprise to know that only about 30% of donors do any research before donating to a charity, which leaves them vulnerable to scams. Several sources state that charity fraud is on the rise.  It certainly doesn’t help that the IRS has a simplified version of the application form for tax exempt status for some groups, and also reduced the processing fee.  So, the number of new charities is rising dramatically.  It is vitally important that information is available to help donors make wise giving decisions. Equally important is for organizations to be accountable and transparent in providing this information, which helps highlight organizations that may not have best practices in place or in fact could be scams.  BBB Charity Review solves both issues.

The charity review program of the Kansas City BBB began in 2009. Since 2012, when I came on board, one of the main challenges that I hear about from organizations is how to build awareness. That is a marketing issue that we have had to face ourselves! How do you get your messaging out there with limited resources? We are still working on that and we are certainly thankful to ACA for their partnership in publishing this article. This is another area for which BBB Charity Review offers assistance. The BBB brand is strong, recognizable and communicates trust.

Charity review is a free service, providing an avenue for charities to demonstrate accountability and for donors to make informed giving decisions. It provides the following benefits to your organization:

  • 98% of the public is familiar with the BBB brand
  • Strengthens overall operations
  • Demonstrates commitment to accountability beyond legal requirements
  • Reassures donors that contributions are used effectively
  • Attracts new donors
  • Free of charge

We produce reports about local / regional charities, evaluating them against  comprehensive BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability.

What is the BBB Wise Giving Alliance?

BBB WGA reports on nationally soliciting charities that the public has most often asked about as well as charities that request to be evaluated. reports on about 1,300 nationally soliciting charities. In addition, about half of the 112 Better Business Bureaus in the United States and Canada (Kansas City BBB being one of them) cumulatively produce reports on over 10,000 locally soliciting charities using the same BBB Charity Standards as BBB WGA. Charities can be searched at

How does a charity become accredited?

A great first step is to review the BBB CharityAccountability Standards to make sure your organization is prepared to meet them.

The next step is to submit an enrollment form at , after which access to our online questionnaire based on the standards is provided.

The questionnaire is completed and financial statements, an annual report, and samples of fundraising appeals are uploaded.  After evaluation, BBB provides an initial review and where possible works with an organization to allow an opportunity to meet any standards not met. A charity must meet all 20 standards covering governance, effectiveness, finances and fundraising for accreditation.  A draft report is provided for review prior to publishing.   

As long as a charity meets all standardsthere is the option to license the seal for use on the organization’s website and fundraising materials. The licensing fee is annual, $125, $225 or $325 depending on organization revenue. All accredited charities are included in promotional efforts of the Kansas City BBB, whether they license the seal or not. 

Here’s what staff members of accredited organizations have to say:

Angel Flight Central serves people in need by arranging charitable flights for health care or other humanitarian purposes.  

Four Criteria for Positive Performance Reviews

“The review process was, and continues to be an OUTSTANDING exercise for our organization to go through – and regardless of the outcome, we are operating more efficiently, effectively and transparently as a result of the review questions.  The challenge attracts great conversation, planning and continuous evolving. It’s a low-cost, healthy exercise that can only lead to positive results.  We

very much look forward to utilizing all of BBB’s resources for our daily operations.  Highly recommended for all non-profit organizations!”

~Brendan Sneegas, Director of Outreach & Development 

First Call Alcohol / Drug Prevention & Recovery  It is the mission of First Call to reduce the impact of alcohol, drugs and addiction by providing quality resources to individuals, families and the community.  

“In 2014, First Call Alcohol/Drug Prevention & Recovery applied and became a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity. As a non-profit we believe it is very important to stay transparent to both the people we serve and the people who support our work. The BBB Charity Accreditation process provides a robust look at the work of nonprofit agencies. From financials to governing boards to the services agencies provide, you can find all of the information on their Review Page. With our 60th anniversary coming next year, we feel it is vital to ensure the citizens of the Kansas City Metro learn about us in as many ways as possible, and the BBB Charity Accreditation is an important part of this mission.”

~Melissa Gard, Administrative & Operations Manager

To view BBB accredited charities click here.