Monday, November 14, 2005

Cause for Concern?

Every year the Better Business Bureau puts out a list of charitable or non-profit organizations that meet their standards for financial accountability. I was reviewing both the national and local lists and found some troubling listings. There are four possible classifications "Meets Standards for Charity Accountability", "Did Not Meet Standards", "Under Annual Review" and "Did Not Provide Information." According to the BBB, those who do not meet the standards are probably ethical, accountable organizations that were likely disqualified for a simple reason such as having less than five board members or not conducting annual audits. The logic is that if an organization goes through the entire process of BBB review and submits all requested materials they probably have nothing to hide. The list of greater concern is those organizations who refuse to provide information. The BBB sends a request letter with the forms and makes several follow-up phone calls and if the non-profit still does not respond, the BBB considers that a red-flag.

That's all a lot of background information to get to my main point. The list of organizations that chose to not provide information included Inspire! Women, Focus on the Family, Joyce Meyer Ministries, Crisis Pregnancy Center of Houston, Living Water International, Texas Right to Life Committee, National Coalition of Prayer and the Presidential Prayer Team. I am not saying any of these organizations is practicing unethical behavior. But it does make me curious why they chose not to provide that information. It also concerns me that the message sent by the BBB is that these non-profits may be hiding something or mismanaging funds. Financial transparency is so important and I hope these organizations will reconsider their decision and submit the necessary paperwork to undergo review.

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