Thursday, November 15, 2012

Supporting Emerging Charities

The Better Business Bureau is a non-profit focused on advancing marketplace trust and that focus extends to charities.  The BBB of Greater Kansas City Charity Review Program evaluates local charities based on a framework of 20 accountability standards that cover governance, finances, informational materials and effectiveness. These standards help put the information charities are providing into context and make it easier for donors to make wise giving decisions. 

Charities that meet all 20 standards are certainly to be applauded and deserve support.   We are working to promote these standards and encourage non-profits to work towards implementing any operational and policy changes required to meet them.  By contacting more and more charities that are interested in acquiring BBB charity accreditation, our reporting database will most certainly grow.   Also, the more we receive inquiries from the public about particular charities, our reporting database will grow.

However, there are often emerging grass roots organizations out there that may not yet be in a position to meet all 20 standards.  They may not be household names or agencies that meet the more urgent social service needs.  They may not have staff or budgets for marketing.  These are also deserving of support, whether through volunteer efforts or donation.

I found one such organization in KCVLAA (Kansas City Volunteer Lawyers & Accountants for the Arts.)  I am passionate about music and the arts.  I want to see artists and musicians thrive in Kansas City.   I don’t like that Nashville, New York and L.A. are considered the ‘music markets’.   Of course technology has opened up a world of opportunity for artists to become independent, but that’s another conversation.  I happened upon KCVLAA when I was doing some web browsing.  Without KCVLAA, the legal and accounting problems of many artists and arts organizations would go unresolved.

As a songwriter, I needed to know all I could about copyrights and intellectual property law so I attended an “Ask The Expert” program of KCVLAA.  I was impressed by how the program was executed and by the expertise and professionalism of the volunteer attorney that I met with.

I continued to learn more about KCVLAA and gained confidence in the knowledge and ability of the executive director and board to successfully advance the mission.  I now serve on the board of KCVLAA and my role at the BBB gives me this opportunity to shine a little light on a deserving organization. There are many others out there.

Learn about what makes a good, well-run charity.  The BBB charity accountability standards are a good place to start.  Continue to check out our reports and call to inquire about charities that you’d like to have us report on.  (816) 421-8188 X112  Many times organizations are helped just by being evaluated against our standards as they identify areas where improvements can be made. 

I encourage all to engage their passions and investigate the non-profits out there that are working hard to better our community in those areas.  They can use your help and will be better because of you.