Friday, February 26, 2010

Charity Spotlight - Harvesters Community Food Network

Today I'd like to spotlight a fantastic BBB Accredited charity, Harvesters Community Food Network.

Harvesters collects, purchases, and distributes food to a large network of food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other nonprofit organizations in the Kansas City metro area. They do great work and are an asset to our community.

When I think of people going hungry, my mind often first drifts to images of starving people in developing countries. Many poor countries do indeed have staggering food insecurity issues. But hunger is also a persistent and growing problem in our area. I encourage you to learn more about the need for organizations like Harvesters. A good place to start is the Hunger in America 2010 study that examined Americans seeking food assistance and the charitable hunger-relief system. While the study looked at America as a whole, it also broke its findings down into information about individual communities. When looking at the key facts about hunger in Kansas City, perhaps the most striking finding to me was that more than 25% of people seeking hunger assistance live above the poverty line.

Clearly, hunger can affect anyone. I'm grateful Harvesters is there to help us out.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Help Prepare A Million Meals for Haiti This Weekend

So, what are your plans this weekend? I just found out about a wonderful opportunity to take a little time and do some good.

The Salvation Army, a BBB Accredited Charity, is sponsoring a community event this Friday and Saturday to package one million meals to send to earthquake survivors at The Salvation Army relief camps in Haiti. The event is taking place at The American Royal, Govenor's Expo in Kansas City.

The event will take place this Friday, February 26th from 12pm - 8pm and Saturday, February 27th, from 8am-8pm.

Volunteers are asked to commit one hour to assembling nutritious, shelf-stable meals. Children are welcome to help alongside their parents. There's no need to sign up beforehand, just show up!

For more information, click here.

FTC Smacks Down Scammers!

Here is a recent press conference from the Federal Trade Commission about the types of Scammers the BBB is committed to fight.  We love you, FTC.

Monday, February 22, 2010

How Wealthy is Kansas City?

A recent survey conducted by reveals that Kansas City has gotten some of the good and some of the bad during the recession.  Working from statistics compiled by the Census Bureau in 2008, studied the wealth of the top 420 populated municipalities in the nation (those over 75,000 residents).

Overland Park, KS was the only city in the Kansas City area to breech the top 100 at 67.  Lee's Summit, MO just missed, coming in at 103.  Olathe, KS made out well, ranked at 130.

On the bottom half of the list was Kansas City, MO (265), Independence, MO (375), and ranking in the bottom 20 was Kansas City, KS (404).

Even though KC took a hit during the recession, we made out better than our neighbors.  Lawrence ranked 296. Columbia, MO ranked 301. Wichita ranked 304.  St. Louis (373), Topeka (380), and Springfield, MO (381) were ranked in the bottom fifty.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Local Accredited Charities Doing Good

Have you heard of the BBB's Charity Accountability Standards? If not, well, you should know about them. In the near future, I'll do a series of posts about the Standards and why we think they are a wonderful tool for both donors and nonprofits. For now, know that charities that meet them demonstrate a remarkably high level of transparency and commitment to ethics. They go above and beyond laws and regulations. We here at the Kansas City BBB are incredibly proud of the two local charities that meet our standards, Harvesters Community Food Network and Hope House. Both organizations address critical needs in our community and we applaud them for their commitment to high ethical standards.

Follow this link to check out our evaluations on other local charities. If your favorite organization is not listed with us, let us know!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hollywood Video and Blockbuster Facing Challenges to Business Model

From our friends at the Council of Better Business Bureaus, comes this news that Hollywood Video is filing for bankruptcy, again. The gist of the article is that companies like Redbox and Netflix, that make movie rental as convenient as going to your mailbox or grabbing a movie along with a loaf of bread at the grocery store, are pushing traditional movie rental outlets like Hollywood Video out of business. Blockbuster is facing similar challenges to its traditional business model.

I grew up in the 80's and 90's and I have fond memories of perusing the new releases at the local video store on Friday nights with friends. With the latest titles lining the outside walls in alphabetical order, it was like a treasure hunt and we'd often spend an hour choosing the perfect movie for that night. Afterward, we'd head to someones home and watch the movie while downing unhealthy amounts of pizza and soda pop. Good times.

Fast forward 15 years and the dawn of the Internet, as well as the responsibilities that come with a job and a young family, has made the idea of spending an hour in a store that only rents movies seem like some version of Purgatory. I have too much to do and there are now much more convenient ways of getting the latest release onto my television or computer screen. Today when I look to rent a movie, I hit the Internet and search not only titles, but online reviews. In a matter of minutes I can find a movie sure to be entertaining that will fit the mood of my family. I can also then either reserve it online and have it delivered to my mailbox in a few days, or pinpoint exactly which kiosk in my zip code has that movie in stock. Or, if I choose, I can stream the movie onto my laptop computer and have it available in a matter of seconds. These are very good times.

So, how do you rent movies?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Join us at the Kansas City Remodeling Show this weekend!

It's cold outside and by this time in winter, we're tired or sitting in front of the TV, we've finished the latest book on Oprah's list, and even our kids are getting tired of the Wii. So . . . what to do this weekend? Take your family out for a great time at the Kansas City Remodeling Show!

Seriously. It's fun. If you don't own a home - or if the most expensive home improvement project you can contemplate right now is changing a few light bulbs - you will still have a good time. Wonderscope Children's Museum will be on-site with activities for kids. I always enjoy visiting the Beak N' Wings booth and seeing their interesting variety of exotic birds in need of good homes. Other vendors will be there to sell jewelry, organic produce, books . . . you name it. You can even stop by and say hi to your friends at the BBB.

Perhaps my particular fondness for the Kansas City Remodeling Show stems from the fact that 3 years ago, on a whim, I handed over a business card and landed a great job. One never knows where visiting a few booths in a massive convention hall may lead . . .

Saturday, February 6, 2010

BBB Foundation's Mardi Gras Casino Night & Texas Hold 'Em Tournament

Looking for a fun night out with an opportunity to network with some of our area's most fantastic businesses? Then join the BBB Foundation's Mardi Gras Casino Night & Texas Hold 'Em Tournament on Friday, February 26th, beginning at 5pm. This event benefits the consumer education programs of the BBB Foundation. So please, come have some fun with your BBB!

For more information, follow this link. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Consumer Reports Electronics Blog: "Super Bowl" TV deals not so super? Try "The Big Game"

Consumer Reports Electronics Blog: "Super Bowl" TV deals not so super? Try "The Big Game"

From our friends at Consumer Reports. Apparently, the terms "Super Bowl" and "Super Sunday" are trademarked names owned by the NFL and to use those terms in their ads, companies have to pay big bucks. I think that's sad, given that the Super Bowl might as well be another national holiday. SO, if you're still looking for a good deal on the perfect TV to watch the game on Sunday, try typing in "The Big Game" in your online search. Perhaps we should be grateful that nobody can copyright Christmas, or Groundhog Day for that matter . . .

Monday, February 1, 2010

Charity Registration Requirements in Kansas

Sounds about as interesting as watching paint dry. I know. But it is important. If you are looking to donate to a charity, particularly one that you don't know a whole lot about, you may be curious about whether or not the charity is registered to solicit in your state. Both Missouri and Kansas have different requirements warranting different, but equally thrilling, blog posts. I'll start with Kansas because that is where I proudly reside, albeit four short miles from the Missouri border.

Kansas law requires charitable organizations to register with the Secretary of State's office prior to soliciting. The law also requires professional fundraisers and solicitors working for a charitable organization to register - something to keep in mind if you receive a telemarketing call from a for-profit fundraiser on behalf of a charitable organization.
Being a law, it is filled with exemptions. You can view those here. Of note are religious organizations, Boys and Girls Clubs, scouts, and any charity that receives funds from the United Way.
For more information about charity registration requirements in Kansas, visit the website of the Kansas Secretary of State.