Better Business Bureau Report for
Mental Health Association of Erie County

Better Business Bureau Report issued March 2014
Better Business Bureau Report expires March 2016

Does not meet one or more standards
This charity does not meet one or more of the 20 standards for Charity Accountability. Find out more...

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Charity Contact Information

Name: Mental Health Association of Erie County
Address: 999 Delaware Avenue
  Buffalo, NY 14209
Phone: 716-886-1242
Web Address:
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Better Business Bureau Comments

Year, State Incorporated: 1963, New York
Affiliates: None
Stated Purpose: "to promote mental health and wellness in our community and supports individuals and families who are challenged by mental illness."

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Evaluation Conclusions


Mental Health Association of Erie County (MHAEC) does not meet the following 5 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Standard 13: Accuracy of Expenses in Financial Statements - Accurately report the charity's expenses, including any joint cost allocations, in its financial statements. For example, audited or unaudited statements which inaccurately claim zero fund raising expenses or otherwise understate the amount a charity spends on fund raising, and/or overstate the amount it spends on programs will not meet this standard.

MHAEC does not meet this Standard because its audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2012:

  • Reports the organization had no fund raising expenses.

Standard 14: Budget - Have a board-approved annual budget for its current fiscal year, outlining projected expenses for major program activities, fund raising, and administration.

MHAEC does not meet this Standard because, when the organization provided 2013 budget information, it indicated that the budget:

  • Did not identify total projected fund raising expenses.

Standard 16: Annual Report - Have an annual report available to all, on request, that includes: (a) the organization's mission statement, (b) a summary of the past year's program service accomplishments, (c) a roster of the officers and members of the board of directors, (d) financial information that includes (i) total income in the past fiscal year, (ii) expenses in the same program, fund raising and administrative categories as in the financial statements, and (iii) ending net assets.

MHAEC does not meet this Standard because the 2012 annual report did not include:

  • A roster of the board of directors.
  • Total income.
  • Total program expenses.
  • Total fund raising expenses.
  • Total administrative expenses.
  • Total end of year net assets.

Standard 17: Web Site Disclosures - Include on any charity websites that solicit contributions, the same information that is recommended for annual reports, as well as the mailing address of the charity and electronic access to its most recent IRS Form 990.

MHAEC does not meet this Standard because the organization's website,, does not include all of the recommended information for those charity websites that solicit for donations. Specifically, it does not include:

  • Electronic access to the organization’s 2012 IRS Form 990.

Standard 18: Privacy for Written Appeals & Internet Privacy - Address privacy concerns of donors by (a) providing in written appeals, at least annually, a means (e.g., such as a check off box) for both new and continuing donors to inform the charity if they do not want their name and address shared outside the organization, (b) providing a clear, prominent and easily accessible privacy policy on any of its websites that tells visitors (i) what information, if any, is being collected about them by the charity and how this information will be used, (ii) how to contact the charity to review personal information collected and request corrections, (iii) how to inform the charity (e.g., a check off box) that the visitor does not wish his/her personal information to be shared outside the organization, and (iv) what security measures the charity has in place to protect personal information.

MHAEC does not meet this Standard because:

  • The organization's website,, does not have a link to a privacy policy.
In addition, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance requested but did not receive complete information on the organization’s finances and solicitation materials and is unable to verify the organization's compliance with the following 2 Standards for Charity Accountability: 9 and 15.
Mental Health Association of Erie County (MHAEC) meets the remaining 13 Standards for Charity Accountability.
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MHAEC provides services to individuals and families in Erie County who are challenged by mental illness. The organization also promotes mental health and wellness in the community through five programs: Legal Services and Advocacy, Basic Emotional Skills Training (B.E.S.T), Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Child and Family Support and their Information and Referral program. As reported by the organization, MHAEC’s legal service program provides free legal help exclusively to mentally ill and disabled individuals. The organization provided the service to 300 clients in 2012. Basic Emotional Skills Training is a classroom-based program for children in pre-kindergarten through grade 2 that helps develop positive emotional skills. In 2012, MHAEC reported that the program served 2,500 children. The organization’s Child and Family Support program offers support, education and advocacy to those with a child or adolescent suffering from mental illness. In 2012, the organization reported that 315 families and 185 children were served by this program.

For the year ended December 31, 2012, MHAEC's program expenses were:

Mental health programs 727,077
Mental health support 10,838
Total Program Expenses: $737,915
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Chief Executive : Kenneth Houseknecht, Executive Director

Chair of the Board: Edward J. Butler, Jr.
Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: Philanthropist

Board Size: 24

Paid Staff Size: 14

*2012 compensation, as reported by the organization, includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.
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Fund Raising


Method(s) Used:

Direct mail, special events, television, grant proposals, Internet appeals, planned giving and membership appeals.
The Alliance is unable to determine the ratio of fund raising expenses to related contributions because the organization's 2012 combined audited financial statements reported zero fund raising. See the Conclusions section of this report for more information.
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Tax Status


This organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.
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The following information is based on MHAEC's audited financial statements - combined - for the year ended December 31, 2012.

Source of Funds  
Erie County Department of Mental Health 527,045
Grants 153,103
Special events 46,126
Miscellaneous income 44,044
United Way of Buffalo and Erie County 38,000
Contributions 31,056
Investment income 3,238
Program 950
Total Income $843,562


Uses of Funds as a % of Total Expenses

Programs: 86%    Administrative: 14% 

Total income $843,562
Program expenses $737,915
Fund raising expenses
Administrative expenses 121,360
Total expenses $859,275
Expenses in Excess of Income (15,713)
Beginning net assets 386,832
Ending net assets 371,119
Total liabilities 113,946
Total assets $485,065

Note: The Alliance is unable to determine the ratio of fund raising expenses to related contributions because the organization's 2012 combined audited financial statements reported zero fund raising. See the Conclusions section of this report for more information.

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An organization may change its practices at any time without notice. A copy of this report has been shared with the organization prior to publication. It is not intended to recommend or deprecate, and is furnished solely to assist you in exercising your own judgment. If the report is about a charity and states the charity meets or does not meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, it reflects the results of an evaluation of information and materials provided voluntarily by the charity. The name Better Business Bureau is a registered service mark of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

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