Veterans charities more accountable

64% of service-related charities disclose information and nearly a third meet all 20 BBB charity standards; both up since 2007

Compared to six years ago, a larger percentage of nationally soliciting veterans and military-affiliated charities are disclosing information and meeting the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, according to BBB Wise Giving Alliance, the national charity monitoring organization. In the past two years, 64% of veterans and military-affiliated charities contacted by the Alliance provided the requested information and materials needed to complete an evaluation to the 20 BBB Charity Standards. In 2007, only half (50%) provided this information.

“We are encouraged that veterans and military-affiliated charities are being more open about their governance, finances and solicitation activities,” notes H. Art Taylor, president and CEO of BBB Wise Giving Alliance. “America’s donors are generally very supportive of these organizations, but too often they give without sound information.”

In addition, the Alliance found there was a 12 percentage point increase in the number of veterans and military charities that were able to meet all 20 of the BBB charity standards (i.e., BBB Accredited Charities). The number of such groups that met standards jumped from 20% in 2007 to 32% in 2013.

“Charities devoted to causes of veterans and their families have long played a vital role in our society,” said Taylor. “We are here to help the public make informed decisions about the organizations they want to support and we are excited to see more charities meeting our standards. While veterans groups still have more accountability work to do, we are encouraged to see that they are marching in the right direction.”

“But as with any charity and solicitation requests, we urge you to still exercise caution and do a bit of research before making a giving decision,” recommends Taylor. “Donation requests are high around Veterans Day and during the holiday season. To make sure that you are giving wisely, review our reports on give.org and our Wise Giving Guide for more tips.”

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips on giving to veterans and military-affiliated organizations:

  • Mistaken Identity: Watch out for name confusions. Many veterans’ charities include almost the same words in different order or slightly different form.
  • Clear Program Description: Look for a clear description of the organization’s programs in its appeals and on its website. If the charity says it is helping veterans, does it explain how (financial assistance, shelter, counseling) and where it is doing so?
  • Telemarketing Cautions: Telemarketing can be a costly method of fundraising unless carefully managed. If called, do not hesitate to ask for written information on the charity’s programs and finances before donating.
  • On-the-Spot Donation Decisions: Be wary of excessive pressure in fundraising. Don’t be pressured to make an immediate on-the-spot donation. Charities should welcome your gift when you want to send it.
  • Donating Used Clothing and Other Goods: Find out how the charity benefits from the collection and resale of used clothing and other in-kind gifts. Sometimes the charity receives only a small part of the resale price of the item or may have a contractual arrangement to get a flat fee for every household pick-up, no matter what the contents.
  • Check with Outside Sources Before Giving: In addition to charity monitoring resources such as give.org, check with your state government’s charity registration agency, usually part of  the attorney general’s office.

To get a free copy of the 52-page Wise Giving Guide, send an email to give@council.bbb.org  or mail a post card or note to:  Wise Giving Guide, 3033 Wilson Blvd, Suite 600, Arlington, Va. 22201. Be sure to include your mailing address.

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