Muslim Advocates Announces New BBB Accreditation Initiative

  
     
August 22, 2008

Accreditation Initiative to Launch as Annual Giving Period for Muslims Approaches; Charities and Nonprofits to Receive Free Technical Assistance

Muslim Advocates, a legal and civic education organization, together with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance today announced the launch of a new initiative to assist American-Muslim charitable organizations and nonprofits in meeting the highest standards of legal compliance, financial accountability and good governance. This initiative combines the experience of the Alliance, a trusted and independent charity evaluator, with the legal expertise of Muslim Advocates.

The initiative is part of a comprehensive community education campaign, led by Muslim Advocates, to strengthen the governance and legal compliance of American-Muslim charitable and nonprofit organizations.

"Charitable giving is not only an American tradition, but a religious obligation for many people of faith," says Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates. "Muslim charities contribute to our nation and local communities through mosque-sponsored food drives, aiding victims of natural disasters, running community-based health clinics and numerous other activities. As the holy month of Ramadan begins in two weeks, American Muslims will be opening their wallets and doing their part to aid our fellow Americans and all those in need."

"We couldn't think of a better time to launch this initiative, and we're thankful for the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance's assistance," Khera continued.

Since 2001, Muslim charities have been under intense scrutiny as the federal government has focused extensively on the community's charitable institutions and their donors. Charities increasingly need guidance on how to meet these new challenges but frequently have limited resources or expertise to do so.

"Keeping our charitable sector strong and vibrant is our priority," said Art Taylor, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. "We're pleased that Muslim Advocates has engaged us to begin this initiative and heartened by the level of interest from organizations in the American-Muslim community. The Alliance charity accountability standards are tough but reflect the interest and concerns of the donating public."

Muslim Advocates and the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance will provide services free of charge to organizations that choose to participate in this initiative. These services will include:

  • Assistance by a Muslim Advocates full-time staff attorney and their network of attorneys, accountants and other experts who will work with Muslim charities to assess their current practices, identify information needed for meaningful review by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, and offer expert advice on how to meet the Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability.
  • Evaluation by the Alliance to determine that an organization has met the 20 Standards of Charity Accountability (considered by many to be the toughest, most comprehensive governance and fiscal management standards in the nonprofit sector).

Muslim Advocates will also host a series of educational seminars for nonprofit leaders in eight cities across the United States, beginning this fall. These seminars will advise Muslim charities on a wide range of issues, including how to improve their governance, increase transparency, and ensure legal compliance with anti-terror financing laws and regulations.

"Many American-Muslim charitable organizations are already playing an active role in complying with our nation's standards when it comes to charitable giving," said Khera. "This new initiative with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance provides an avenue for American-Muslim charities and nonprofit institutions to familiarize themselves with and adhere to the highest standards of governance and accountability while reassuring donors that resources are being directed toward their intended and stated purposes."

Seven charities in the following metropolitan areas have already agreed to take part in the evaluation and accreditation program: Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco and Cincinnati.

 

The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance helps donors make informed giving decisions and advances high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public. The Alliance produces in-depth, evaluative reports on national charities based on comprehensive Standards for Charity Accountability and publishes a quarterly magazine, the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide. National charities that meet the standards can apply to participate in the Alliance's National Charity Seal program. For more information visit: www.bbb.org/charity

Muslim Advocates
Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and education organization dedicated to promoting and protecting freedom, justice and equality for all, regardless of faith, using the tools of legal advocacy, policy engagement and education, and by serving as a legal resource to promote the full participation of Muslims in American civic life. For more information visit: www.muslimadvocates.org.