In a survey of local charities and nonprofits in the West Michigan region, WZZM TV found that the Acton Institute topped 45 other organizations. David Bailey, an investigative reporter for the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based ABC affiliate, used data from the Charity Navigator nonprofit watchdog organization to compile his ranking.
You can see a full list of the West Michigan charities and nonprofits at the WZZM website. Here’s a transcript from Bailey’s report:
At the top of our rankings is the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty based in Grand Rapids. It was established in 1990 and is a think-tank organization “to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles”.
Acton attracts some of the most popular speakers in the country and regularly holds events hosting people from around the world. Acton University hosted more than 1,000 people from 80 countries in 2017 to help educate people.
“We want to be the best run non-profit in the world,” Acton Institute Executive Director Kris Mauren said. “We believe in our mission and we want people to know we use every dollar they give us in the most efficient and effective manner in the execution of that mission.”
Acton attained a perfect 100 rating in Charity Navigator’s ratings which measure transparency and performance. There are only 58 organizations across the country with perfect scores (100) out of the 9,029 that have been evaluated by the web site.
One of the benchmarks for charities is the percentage of their expenses that go to the intended programs to fulfill a charity’s mission. In Acton’s case, nearly 86 percent of the organization’s expenditures are programming expenses and services to the cause.
“When we made that decision several years ago (to meet all standards), we went all the way,” Mauren said. “That’s who we are going to be organizationally and we want the outside to see us as strong and effective and fully transparent because we’ve got nothing to hide.”
Mauren says he uses the “scratch test” when he evaluates all charities and takes a very close look at the organization’s financials and it’s transparency in filing reports. He says a lower score on some metrics for those down the list doesn’t mean they’re not “fine organizations effecting a good mission”.
The link below will take you to the WZZM TV transcript and video report:
Do you know where your money is going? 45 West Michigan charities ranked. Here’s why Acton Institute is the #1 charity in West Michigan, and how we helped Keys for Kids, the lowest charity on the list, to improve.