At the bottom of our rankings is a charity well-known to many people in the Grand Rapids area because it's been in existence since the 1940's.
Keys for Kids, formerly known as Children's Bible Hour and CBH Ministries, is run by Executive Director Greg Yoder these days. The organization is popular for it's radio programs, particularly when they were narrated in the past by local talent, "Uncle" Charlie Vander Meer.
In addition to using radio programs these days, Yoder's organization provides Bible scriptures and lessons to kids using cell phones and stuffed animals with electronic "storyteller" players.
"It's really amazing how God has kind of morphed us from this Christian variety show for kids to now really touching kids on their cell phones because they can access them every day from their phones," Yoder said.
To his credit, Yoder didn't shy away from our questions regarding the charity's poor Charity Navigator rating.
"We have some things to work on but what organization doesn't?," Yoder said.
He told us how much of a difference his organization is making in the lives of kids around the world.
"We're able to reach three million kids and their families," Yoder said. "What better way to not only teach moral values but to be able teach something they're going to hide in their heart forever and use it forever."
One of the main reasons Keys for Kids has a low rating is because it is reporting only 66 percent of its money is going to the program, something Yoder says he's continuing to work on to ensure donor money goes directly to a service. He says the organization didn't put much emphasis on Charity Navigator, choosing to look towards accreditation by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) first. The charity is meeting all of the ECFA's standards.
"I don't like that number (66% going to programs) but it's the number we have," Yoder said. "Do we want it to get better? Absolutely. Would we love 100 percent of the donations going to 100 percent to our programs? Absolutely. Is that reality? Probably not for a small ministry like ours."
But we found other ways Keys for Kids can improve it's rating. Charity Navigator took off points for a lack of transparency on the organization's web site. Yoder promised us he would address the issues we brought to him to attempt to get the charity's rating to improve.
"If you really want to trust Keys for Kids or any other organization for that matter, going to a web site (Charity Navigator) is not enough," Yoder said. "You really need to meet those people who are involved."
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