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Charities Review Council Launches Improved Accountability Wizard After Strengthening Standards

Updated Website Assists Charities in the Review Process and Helps Donors Make Smart Giving Decisions

St. Paul, Minn. (April 27, 2010) – The Charities Review Council, an independent resource for people who support charities with financial donations, announces the launch of its improved Accountability Wizard. The Accountability Wizard is a review process for charities that measures performance in four critical areas: public disclosure, governance, financial activity and fundraising. The review process helps nonprofits stand out, build public trust and improve both visibility and reputation with potential donors and grantmakers.

Based on feedback gathered by the Charities Review Council through a series of focus groups and Town Hall meetings with donors and stakeholders, the Council made changes to its Accountability Standards, which are meant to address the reasonable expectations donors have for accountable nonprofits. The updates to the Accountability Standards reflect demographic, economic, legal and societal changes. For example, protecting donor information and limiting consecutive board terms by board members. Additional information about changes to the Accountability Standards can be found here.

Next, changes were made to the Accountability Wizard the Council’s online, educational assessment tool for charities. The redesigned, user-friendly Accountability Wizard offers nonprofits improved navigation and enhanced online hands-on tools and technical resources as they go through the review process. At the same time, the Council has extended the length of time a nonprofit has to complete its review — from 60 days to a full year — encouraging nonprofits to take advantage of the new technical assistance offered by the Charities Review Council to help meet the standards.

“These new changes to the Accountability Wizard make it easier for nonprofits to participate in a review process that aligns with sound governance and organizational practices,” said Rich Cowles, executive director of the Charities Review Council. “Ultimately, the charity review process helps provide peace of mind for donors who want assurances that they are making smart giving decisions to accountable, transparent and trustworthy organizations.”

A nonprofit that “Meets All Standards” in its Accountability Wizard review can use the Council’s ‘Meets Standards’ seal in promotional materials — demonstrating the charity’s commitment to ethical and accountable practices. The Wizard review is valid for three years and can be renewed after that period.

The Charities Review Council has also introduced its redesigned Website www.smartgivers.org. The Website’s easy-to-use features and fresh navigation takes donors, nonprofits and grantmakers directly to information they are looking for.

Note to Media: Representatives from the Charities Review Council are available to talk about the launch of the improved Accountability Wizard and new changes to Accountability Standards. Please contact Helen Ng if you would like more information.