BBB Reminder: Always Research Charities Before Making Donations

July 01, 2014

BUFFALO, NY—Recent news regarding New York State Attorney General Eric Schniederman’s settlement with Quadriga Arts, a group that raised tens of millions of dollars in donations for the Disabled Veterans National Foundation—nearly all of which did NOT go to the charity—is again calling attention to the importance of charity accountability and transparency. Better Business Bureau serving Upstate New York encourages donors to educate themselves before they give. This comes as the Nonprofit Revitalization Act takes effect in New York State.

“BBBs Charity Review Program provides donors with the information they need to know before they give; looking into not only an organizations finances, but its governance, effectiveness and fundraising materials,” said Warren Clark, President of BBB serving Upstate New York.  “Intense scrutiny often surrounds the non-profit sector, including their fundraising practices. The charity that is the subject of the Attorney General’s investigation has a nondisclosure report with BBB.”

BBB Wise Giving Alliance developed its 20 voluntary Standards for Charity Accountability with professional and technical assistance from all over the charity realm. The standards address charity finances, fund raising and informational materials, governance, effectiveness, donor privacy, and other aspects of charity operations. BBB reports on charities that meet its standards, charities that do not meet its standards, and charities that will not disclose their organization information to BBB.

BBB offers some DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to making wise giving decisions:

DON’T succumb to high-pressure, emotional pitches. Giving on the spot is never necessary, no matter how hard a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor pushes it. The charity that needs your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow …after you’ve had time to do your homework.

DO check out the charity carefully. Make sure you feel comfortable with how your money will be spent. Don’t just take the word of someone else; even good friends may not have fully researched the charities they endorse. Go to to verify that a charity meets BBB Wise Giving Alliance’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.

DON’T assume that only “low overhead” matters. How much money a charity spends on the actual cause – as compared to how much goes toward fundraising and administration – is an important factor, but it’s not the whole story. A charity with impressive financial ratios could have other significant problems such as insufficient transparency, inadequate board activity and inaccurate appeals.

DO be sure it’s the right charity. With so many charities in existence, their names can blur in a donor’s mind and similar-sounding organizations are common. Many phony charities purposefully choose a name that sounds familiar. Be sure you know which charity you’re supporting and that it’s not a case of mistaken identity.

DO consider easy text-to-give options. The BBB Mobile Giving Foundation makes it easy to give smaller donations (usually $10) to charities selected. Go to to find out more.

DO your research before donating. Check with BBB as part of your research process. If a Charity Review is not available, let us know. BBB works with all local charities within Upstate New York. There is no charge to the charity for a review or to the public looking for the information.

Completing BBBs Charity Review process gives charities a way to illustrate trust and transparency to donors. Publicly soliciting charities in Upstate New York are invited to participate in BBB Charity Review. If you want more information, you can visit BBBs Charity Review page online, or email

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About BBB Charity Review

Charity Review® is part of BBB Foundation of Upstate New York Inc., a 501(c)(3) dedicated to consumer, marketplace, and charitable giving education. As their philanthropic arm, BBB Foundation of Upstate New York Inc. provides educational outreach to ensure the development of a strong and ethical marketplace.