BBB Surveying Area Charities

August 6, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan is now doing charity work.

The BBB this month announced the start of its Local Charity Review (LCR) program, in which it will be contacting 501(c)(3) organizations in 37 West Michigan counties and asking them to voluntarily submit basic reporting information that will be evaluated against the BBB’s 20 operating standards for charities.

The LCR program is designed to significantly expand the BBB’s database and provide potential donors with key information about reputable charities seeking donations in West Michigan.

The LCR expansion is taking place now with the intent that the BBB will be able to publish a “giving guide” for donors later this year during the peak donating months.

“Our bureau has always sought to provide reports to Michigan residents and donors. The LCR expansion coincides with the upgrading of our national charity standards because there is a great need for more information in the $240 billion per year charity industry,” said Ken Vander Meeden, local BBB president.

“Since 9-11, charities need to inform donors and educate donors on how the money is used. As very little evaluation of charity governance, spending and program results are provided by any government entity, the BBB’s objective evaluation of local charities should assist both donors and reputable charities in making more effective use of funds.”

The local BBB reports that West Michigan residents are known to be extremely generous in giving to charities. Additionally, the BBB has heard from senior citizens attending the BBB’s S.C.A.M. program that area seniors are more frequently targeted by fake or questionable charities for donations.

“Any charity worth its salt will want to openly report its activities, governance and finances. Reputable charities will benefit greatly by this full disclosure to the BBB LCR program, while questionable charities will probably be reluctant to participate,” said Vander Meeden. “We certainly encourage all local charities to report and to call us if they have questions.”

Charities seeking to report should contact the BBB at bbbops@iserv.net or by phone at 774-8236. Registration soon will be available on the BBB’s Web site at

www.grandrapids.bbb.org

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