How It Works & FAQ

Questions and answers about our exclusive tool, the Accountability Wizard®.

“An individual donor, new, on the opposite side of the metro area, with no relation to us in any way, made a $500 gift at the end of 2015. Rather than donate to national causes, she looked for something more homegrown that had undergone a vetting process.” — Tracy Maki, Executive Director, Valley Outreach MN


What is the Accountability Wizard®?

Based on the Accountability Standards®, the Accountability Wizard® is an online tool for nonprofit capacity building and assessment. The only web-based product of its kind, the Accountability Wizard® is a time-tested tool, elevated by nationally recognized capacity building practitioners and philanthropic thought leaders. The Accountability Wizard® leads organizations to greater strength, efficacy, and to the achievement of the Meets Standards® seal.

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Why do Accountability Standards® matter to donors?

Donors have many choices where to invest and give their money. We hear from many potential and active donors that the emphasis we place on educating nonprofits and helping them understand the importance of transparency is one of many reasons they feel confident giving to organizations that have been reviewed against our Accountability Standards®.

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Why should my organization go through the Accountability Wizard® review process?

The Accountability Wizard® is a risk free learning tool and assessment where organizations partner with the Council to measure and build their internal policies and practices. The Council works hand-in-hand with organizations until they have met all Standards, earning them the Meets Standards® Seal. These nonprofits are listed on our website, in our semi-annual Giving Guide, celebrated on social media, and recommended to donors via phone and email inquiries. The seal is a visual marker of nonprofit strength, and a great way for nonprofits to differentiate themselves, communicating their internal strength and impact to supporters.

The Accountability Wizard® review offers your nonprofit the opportunity to:

  • Create a shared culture of transparency and trust by engaging your board and staff in accountability issues;
  • Access technical assistance to assist you in aligning your organizational practices and procedures with the Accountability Standards®;
  • Earn the Meets Standards® Seal by meeting all of the Accountability Standards®, to use in your print and web materials to set your organization apart and demonstrate your organizational strength;
  • Build trust with donors by earning the Meets Standards® Seal. Your organization will be recognized as one of the most trustworthy nonprofits on our website and in our semi-annual Smart Giver Newsletter.

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How long do I have to complete the Accountability Wizard®?

While we encourage organizations to submit the assessment as soon as possible, you have up to one year from the date you pay your enrollment fee to submit the assessment for review. If the assessment is not submitted by the one year deadline, the account will be deleted. Organizations that wish to continue with the review can simply create a new account, submit the enrollment fee and begin the assessment again.

Once submitted, the Council will conduct its review and the initial results will be available in your account within a few weeks.

The review will then go public as soon as all Standards are met.

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How long is the Accountability Wizard® review good for?

A review is valid for three years from the date the Council completes its initial review and provides the results to you. Six months before the review expires, we will send an email notification encouraging your organization to renew your review.

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What if our organization doesn’t Meet Standards®?

After a review is complete, it is very common for a nonprofit to not meet some of the Standards initially. In many cases, the changes required to meet all Standards are minor and can be made quickly.

During this time, your organization will be listed in our list on our website and in our Smart Giver newsletter as a Review in Progress for up to one full year, and the Charities Review Council staff will be available to provide one-on-one guidance and technical assistance to help your nonprofit Meet Standards®. Once all of the Standards are met, your organization’s status will be updated on our online and print lists to indicate that your organization Meets Standards®.

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Is there a cost to go through the Accountability Wizard® review?

Yes. It’s a sliding scale base on .02% of your annual expenses, good for three years. There is a minimum fee of $100 and a maximum of $3,000.

EXAMPLE: If your organization’s annual expenses total $3,000,000, your fee would be $600. If annual expenses total $16,500,000 you would pay the maximum of $3,000 instead of $3,300.

Calculate your enrollment fee.

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Do you review new organizations (less than three years old)?

Yes, as long as your nonprofit has obtained its federal tax exemption.  The process for reviewing new nonprofits is slightly different, so review the New Organization Review Policy to understand the differences.

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Charities Review Council

Our mission is to mobilize informed donors and accountable nonprofits for the greater good. We envision vibrant and healthy communities for all, benefiting from effective and trustworthy nonprofits that are supported by a well-informed public’s generosity.

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700 Raymond Avenue, Suite 160 • Saint Paul, MN 55114
Phone: (651) 224–7030 • E-mail: info@smartgivers.org

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