New Advice from BBB Wise Giving Alliance: Avoid Charities That Don't Disclose

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BBB WGA Calls for Greater Transparency in Light of Recent Scams

It’s not your imagination; there have been more charity scams in the news recently. BBB Wise Giving Alliance has drawn a line in the sand, calling charities that do not disclose requested information to BBB WGA a “critical red flag” for donors.

In May, the Federal Trade Commission and all 50 State Attorneys General filed charges against four cancer charities, one of the largest charity fraud cases in the nation’s history. In July, the New York State Attorney General announced a court action to shutter a children’s leukemia charity for “touting non-existent and defunct programs.” One common element for four of the charities in these cases is that they did not disclose any of the information requested by BBB WGA and the fifth disclosed but did not meet several BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. A BBB WGA nondisclosure report is a warning sign for donors to be cautious about donating their hard-earned dollars to charities that might be engaged in bad practices.

“To verify trust, donors seek guidance from third-party expert evaluators at BBB WGA,” notes Art Taylor, president and CEO of BBB WGA. “To produce these reports, we ask charities to complete a detailed online questionnaire and provide copies of supporting documents. In our decades monitoring charities, this is the first time we are advising donors to avoid or be extremely cautious when contributing to nondisclosure charities.”

While not all nondisclosure charities are scamming donors, charities that choose not to participate in the review process could be hiding something. has reports on national charities, based on not only finances, but also how well the charity is run, its fundraising ethics and whether it assesses the effectiveness of its programs. BBB WGA also produces a free Wise Giving Guide that summarizes evaluations.

“BBB WGA has long recognized that true disclosure goes beyond simple overhead measures” explains Taylor. “While the IRS Form 990 filed annually by charities is available, it is not evaluative and can be cumbersome for the average donor. We require much more from charities than an IRS Form 990 to complete our reports.”


BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA) is a standards-based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of nationally-soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, results reporting, finances, fundraising, appeal accuracy and other issues. National charity reports are produced by the BBB WGA and local charity reports are produced by local Better Business Bureaus – all reports are available at

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Katherine Hutt
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