WASHINGTON -- With gift giving now a high priority during the holiday season, the National Credit Union Foundation confirmed last week it has won a new seal of approval as an accredited charity from the Better Business Bureau.
The designation, which was originally granted more than a year ago by a BBB affiliate, is being formally trumpeted now for 2008 contributions from investors and donor groups and represents "a symbol for trust and recognizes our commitment to strong accountability and ethical practice standards," said NCUF.
The BBB seal granted puts NCUF in the same ranks with such national charities as the AARP Foundation and a foundation unit of the American Medical Association, officials said.
"This seal of approval from a respected affiliate of the Better Business Bureau sends a strong message to Community Investment Fund investors and all donors that the National Credit Union Foundation is a charity they can trust," emphasized NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin.
Delfin said he was disclosing details of the accreditation now "since many groups make their decisions about contributions during this time of year."
Only charities, said Delfin, that meet the BBB's "Wise Giving Alliance's Standards of Charity Accountability" are eligible to participate in the seal program. Before national charities can apply to use the seal, they must undergo an in-depth independent evaluation by a watchdog unit affiliated with the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Compliance with the BBB standards is voluntary, he said, but donor groups are informed of charities that decline to undergo the evaluation.
"We will proudly use the BBB Accredited Charity as a symbol of our commitment to strong accountability, ethical practices, and sound stewardship of our donors' funds," Delfin said.
The accreditation has become more important this year, said Delfin, in light of NCUF's expansion beyond grant-giving into program management, which includes the REAL Solutions network as well as development education that teaches social responsibility to CU volunteers and professionals around the world.
Delfin said that unlike other charity-monitoring groups that focus solely on a review of charity finances, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance evaluates each charity's governance, fundraising practices, solicitations and informational materials, as well as expenditures.
"The standards go well beyond what government regulators require," Delfin said.
NCUF, he said, was found to exceed the BBB standards on several fronts. For example, the standards require that charities spend at least 65% of contributions on programs. In the past year, NCUF spent over 89% of contributions on programs.