Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Oldest & Most Experienced Charity Evaluator

Guest Blogger:

Jim Judge of Judge Evaluation Services 

Former Director of Charity Accreditation for the St. Louis BBB

When people think of the Better Business Bureau, they usually think of a place you go to file complaints or check out a company before you do business with them.  You may not realize that the BBB is also the nation’s oldest and most experienced charity evaluator!  With the merger of the BBB Philanthropic Advisory Service and the National Charities Information Bureau in 2001, the resulting entity, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance has more than 100 years of experience evaluating charities. 

Another little known fact is that the BBB is also the largest charity evaluator in the United States.  Our national office reports on 1,300 nationally soliciting organizations and local BBBs report on another 10,000 local and regional charities.  More impressively, the BBB evaluates charities using its 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.  These Standards do much more than look at the financial statements and issue a “rating.”  Sure, we look at the financial statements, but we also look at the governance and oversight of the organization, we verify certain policies and procedures are in place, and we review websites and solicitation materials for accuracy.  You can find more information on the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability here:    

Something else that sets the BBB process apart is that we work with charities to assist them in meeting the Standards they miss.  This personal attention exemplifies the difference between the BBB and other third party evaluators.  The BBB’s goal is to help organizations build their own capacity to effectively achieve their mission and serve their clients.  The Standards we use are a set of best practices that can assist organizations in becoming stronger and the reports we create give organizations a way to show potential donors that they go above and beyond what is legally required in disclosure and transparency.  BBB reports are available to donors free of charge and the BBB does not charge charities for an evaluation.

But, make no mistake, the BBB is also a watchdog and we are here to ensure that the organizations that do not deserve donations are spotlighted.  Each year the BBB system issues warnings about local charities that donors should be wary of.  By doing this we are helping funnel money away from the unethical operators and back to the organizations that deserve it most.   

Whether you are an individual donor, business owner, or cyber-sleuth, BBB charity reports serve as an unbiased resource to assist in making wise giving decisions.  If you are a charity, a BBB charity evaluation is worth its weight in gold.  Meeting the detailed standards of a national organization with the name recognition of the BBB can only help you in the eyes of your potential donors, while making your organization stronger!

Visit for more information.  If you are a Kansas City region nonprofit, the first step toward accreditation is registration:

Jim Judge provides services to BBB's across the country and can be reached at:
 (888) 253-3385 or