What is LCR?
Local Charity Review (LCR) is a program of the BBB's to provide reports on local charities and soliciting organizations who contact western Michigan foundations, corporations, umbrella charities (e.g. United Way), and individual donors for support. BBB-LCR requests detailed financial information, marketing materials, proof of governance items, and other materials to "evaluate charities against a proven set of standards". No other local organization provides an unbiased, report based on standardized facts re governance, finances, and fund-raising.
Why does the BBB provide this?
BBB's have reported on ethical business practices, in the public interest, for over 90 years. The growth of national and local charities soliciting funds in local communities has grown into a $200 billion plus per year industry. Not all of these soliciting charities are ethical in their practices or efficient in their use of funds.
Reputable charities are hurt by the ineffective, inefficient, and misdirected (though technically legal) "quasi-charities" that exist. Our goal is to make donors more aware of the reputable charities and more concerned about ineffective charities use of donor support.
Don't Government Agencies do the same thing?
No; though millions of tax dollars are spent annually to register, license, and collect financial (IRS form 990) data, no one issues a report, nor evaluates against any known standards. No one evaluates and reports to the public on charities.
Does BBB-LCR "Approve" Charities?
No; the BBB will not "approve or disapprove" any charity voluntarily submitting the requested information. It will issue a report based on the facts provided and let the donor decide whether the charity is worthy of their support. BBB reports will include information evaluated against "accepted standards of good charitable practices", and state that the charity in question either "meets" or "does not meet" the specific standard.
Where can I find a BBB Charity Report?
What if BBB does not have a report on the charity in question?
Your "inquiry" to the BBB of Western Michigan will trigger a request to the charity for information. The charity will then have 30 days to voluntarily provide the LCR Review questionnaire materials. If the charity chooses not to reply to the BBB, that will be reported by the Bureau as "we have twice attempted to collect the information, but the charity did not respond". Donors alone will determine if that is an adequate response to their quest for factual information.
Who may use BBB-LCR Reports?
All BBB-LCR reports may be viewed by the public, umbrella organizations, corporations and foundations in order to make an informed decision about the charity's solicitation. No LCR report may be "reproduced" and used by a competing charity in their solicitation material as BBB reports are copyrighted and the trademark is registered and protected.
When in doubt - Check it out!