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Mission and Services

Independent Charities of America (ICA) is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit association of America's best charities. Our purpose is to represent charities that meet the highest standards of public accountability and program effectiveness and to facilitate gifts to those charities from contributors in fund drives conducted at work and on the web.

ICA was founded in 1988 by a group of volunteers led by James J. Casimir, then the National Director of Appeals for the Internal Revenue Service and now an executive with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, LLP. The current President of the all volunteer, unpaid Board of Directors is Nancy Caldwell Mead, formerly National Director, Scholarship America ("Dollars For Scholars").

ICA is substantially different from the United Way other "federated groups" in both its philosophy and operation. For example, it is inclusive in its membership policies and welcomes charities of all types, providing they meet ICA's eligibility standards. It has the lowest operating overhead and member fees or assessments of any federated group, by far. It has a history of creating innovative giving mechanisms, such as its GiveDirect online workplace giving system, which it offers free to companies.
For more, see The ICA Story.


For Givers
  • To assemble, screen, certify, and present high quality charities for giver consideration.
  • To help givers find specific charities that are doing the work they wish to support.
  • To provide systems that allow for charities to ask potential contributors for gifts, and for contributors to make gifts, without high fund raising overhead costs.

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For Employers

  • Free administrative, logistical, and funds distribution services to facilitate employer support of employee giving at work through payroll deduction and otherwise.
  • Public recognition for companies that sponsor at-work employee giving campaigns.

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For Charities

  • In return for adhering to the highest standards of accountability and service, to provide the privilege of one-stop application, certification, and access to workplace giving, web-based giving, and other low-cost "federated" fund raising. Member Services and Benefits.
Charities are reviewed and certified annually.

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Financial Statements

IRS Form 990 Tax Return

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  • Governance by Board of Directors with no material conflicts of interest, the majority of whom serve without compensation.

  • IRS certified 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

  • Documented provision of substantive services and programs. For "national/international certification, services must be delivered to populations in at least 15 states or one or more foreign countries. Documents required depend on type of service delivered but always include a narrative annual report to the public and details on grants in aid on a state-by state or country-by-country basis over a three year period.

  • Annual financial audit conducted by an independent CPA in accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards, showing compliance with Generally Accepting Accounting Principles. Certain compliance tests are conducted by ICA on the audit.

  • Current IRS Form 990 annual return with all attachments, including those not open to public inspection, must be submitted to ICA. Certain compliance tests are conducted on the 990 by ICA.

  • Applicant cannot be late or in arrears with its IRS Form 990 filing and cannot appear on the State Department's or UN's list of suspect organizations. (To date, no such organization has ever applied).

  • Faith-Based human care charities are eligible to apply. Proselytizing organizations are not.

  • Applicants' fund raising materials and other information to the public must be truthful and nondeceptive.

  • A variety of other miscellaneous standards must be met.

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