Better Business Bureau Report for
American Library Association

Better Business Bureau Report issued August 2013
Better Business Bureau Report expires August 2015

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: American Library Association
Address: 50 East Huron St.
  Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 312-280-4253
Web Address:
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Better Business Bureau Comments

Year, State Incorporated: 1876, Massachusetts
Affiliates: ALA Allied Professional Association, Inc., and 57 chapters
Stated Purpose: The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

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Evaluation Conclusions


American Library Association does not meet the following 5 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Standard 1: Oversight of Operations and Staff - Organizations shall have a board of directors that provides adequate oversight of the charity's operations and its staff. Indication of adequate oversight includes, but is not limited to, regularly scheduled appraisals of the CEO's performance, evidence of disbursement controls such as board approval of the budget, fund raising practices, establishment of a conflict of interest policy, and establishment of accounting procedures sufficient to safeguard charity finances.

American Library Association does not meet this Standard because its board of directors does not:

  • Receive information about the financial arrangements made with outside fund raising firm(s) and/or consultant(s) hired in the past year.

Standard 6: Board Policy on Effectiveness - Have a board policy of assessing, no less than every two years, the organization's performance and effectiveness and of determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

American Library Association does not meet this Standard because:

  • The board of directors does not have a written policy stating that, at least every two years, an appraisal be done assessing the organization’s performance and effectiveness and determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

Standard 7: Board Approval of Written Report on Effectiveness - Submit to the organization's governing body, for its approval, a written report that outlines the results of the aforementioned performance and effectiveness assessment and recommendations for future actions.

American Library Association does not meet this Standard because:

  • It has never completed an effectiveness assessment.

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.

American Library Association 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:

  • Total program expenses.
  • Total fund raising expenses.
  • Total administrative expenses.
  • Electronic access to the organization’s most recent 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.

American Library Association does not meet this Standard because the privacy policy on this website, does not indicate:

  • How to contact the charity to review personal information that is collected and request corrections.
  • How to inform the charity that the visitor does not want his/her information shared with others.
In addition, the BBB of Chicago & Northern Illinois requested but did not receive complete information on the organization’s solicitation materials and is unable to verify the organization's compliance with the following Standard for Charity Accountability: 15.
American Library Association meets the remaining 14 Standards for Charity Accountability.
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Membership services are provided in conjunction with member participation; personal and organizational members totaled 57,500 as of August 31, 2012. Conferences enable members to keep abreast of the latest technological capabilities, new publications and trends in the profession. Four major conferences, several national forums and a variety of institutes were held during the year. Trade journals and books are published to aide the profession. American Library Association published 12 trade journals and an estimated 50 books on a variety of topics of interest to the profession during the year.

For the fiscal year ended August 31, 2012, American Library Association's program expenses were:

Publishing 16,278,853
Meetings and conferences 11,731,213
Grants and awards 5,835,015
Membership activities 5,378,474
Office activities 5,332,986
Products and promotions 1,205,536
Long-term investments 626,450
Total Program Expenses: $46,388,527
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Chief Executive : Keith Fiels, Executive Director

Chair of the Board: Maureen Sullivan
Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: Organization Development Consultant, Maureen Sullivan Associates

Board Size: 11

Paid Staff Size: 250

*Compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.
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Fund Raising


Method(s) Used:

direct mail, invitations to fund raising events, print advertisements, grant proposals, internet, planned giving arrangements, cause-related marketing, membership
Fund raising costs were 5% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $6,939,581, are donations received as a result of fund raising activities.)
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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 American Library Association's audited financial statements - consolidated for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2012.

Source of Funds  
Meetings and conferences 12,080,405
Membership dues 8,621,239
Sales of books and materials 8,257,386
Grants 5,750,398
Advertising 5,322,617
Subscriptions 4,438,922
Other 2,673,447
Dividends and interest income 1,344,857
Contributions 1,189,183
Net realized and change in unrealized gains 1,062,154
Total Income $50,740,608


Uses of Funds as a % of Total Expenses

Programs: 92%  Fund Raising: 1%  Administrative: 7% 

Total income $50,740,608
Program expenses $46,388,527
Fund raising expenses 314,796
Administrative expenses 3,691,827
Total expenses $50,395,150
Income in Excess of Expenses 345,458
Beginning net assets 30,117,193
Ending net assets 30,462,651
Total liabilities 45,570,809
Total assets $76,033,460

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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.

This report is not to be used for fund raising or promotional purposes.

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