Consumer Reports Inc

Creating a fair and just marketplace for all.

aka CONSUMERS UNION OF UNITED STATES INC   |   Yonkers, NY   |  www.consumerreports.org

Mission

Founded in 1936, CR has a mission to create a fair and just marketplace for all. Widely known for our rigorous research and testing of products and services, we also survey millions of consumers each year, report extensively on marketplace issues, and advocate for consumer rights and protections around safety as well as digital rights, financial fairness, and sustainability. CR is independent and nonprofit.

Ruling year info

1984

President and CEO

Dr. Marta L. Tellado

Main address

101 Truman Avenue

Yonkers, NY 10703 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

13-1776434

NTEE code info

Consumer Protection and Safety (W90)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Today, consumers face a market filled with products and services of impenetrable complexity, corporations that seek to control our behavior and limit our choices, an economy being lurched into unfamiliar terrain by global crises, and a government unwilling to or incapable of addressing systemic issues that pose existential threats to our basic safety, health, and economic and political stability. In this era of momentous change and upheaval, consumers continue to rely on Consumer Reports to shine a trusted light on the shifting landscape of the marketplace—and ensure that rapid innovation and consumer safety go hand in hand. As the digital age accelerates, there has never been a more important time for consumers to be empowered with trustworthy knowledge and expert insights. In today's rapidly evolving world, what we do at Consumer Reports must be as transformative and groundbreaking as the new technologies, products and services entering people's lives every day.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Digital Rights

People love the benefits of the digital world, but just 9 percent of people believe they have “a lot of control” over the information that is collected about them, even as 74 percent say “it is very important to be in control.” This points to a disconnect between supply and demand: Consumers’ expectations are not being served in the marketplace. But because of the complexity of the issue, people feel powerless. It is not merely that people’s data is extracted and used without their understanding, consent, or control; it’s how this data is used to manipulate behaviors, exploit cognitive biases, and power automated decision-making by opaque algorithms, which disproportionately harm low-income consumers and communities of color.

COVID-19 heightens the urgency of our work. In a time of physical distancing, almost every aspect of our lives has become digital. And while local shops, restaurants, and other services are shuttered, Big Tech is devouring their customers and jobs—further concentrating economic power and market domination.

CR will work with its coalition partners to reshape the terms of the digital marketplace in consumers’ favor. In 2018, CR was instrumental in the passage of the landmark California Consumer Privacy Act, the nation’s first comprehensive privacy bill. The momentum from this victory has created a window for us to spearhead a larger coalition to pass additional reforms and protections—including a much-needed federal privacy law. CR will also scale up product testing and partnerships through the Digital Standard, working with manufacturers to shape the design of connected products and services, and enabling them to compete and differentiate on emerging consumer values such as privacy and fairness. Finally, CR will launch innovative products and services that help people control their data and exercise their data privacy rights.
To model our values, we are working to improve the data privacy experience of our own members and users. Specifically, we are rewriting our privacy policies so that they are clear and concise, building digital products that collect and retain only the minimal data necessary, and introducing an easy-to-understand interface for consumers to exercise their right to access or delete their personal information. And as our journey continues, we hope to share our experience to help others with theirs.

In a world where software shapes and powers our lives, CR can help people reclaim agency, demand better from Big Tech, and ensure that innovation is a force for human advancement, creativity, and freedom. There are too few large-scale national organizations active in this debate that have CR’s household name recognition and independence. We are uniquely positioned to drive change and contribute to mainstreaming understanding and awareness of the need to preserve competition, choice, and agency in the marketplace.

How will we know if we succeeded?

Manufacturers have raised the standard on privacy and security.
Consumers have access to data control solutions.
Competition and consumer privacy protections are strengthened at the state and federal level.

Population(s) Served

From hidden costs and confusing terms and conditions to exploitative and predatory practices, consumers can find it difficult to protect what they earn and make informed decisions about what to do with their money. In the digital marketplace, technology innovation is creating new products and services that may bring convenience but also create unseen risks and consequences. The new economic crisis is exposing an even broader swath of consumers to financial fragility that leaves them at greater risk of financial hardship from these challenges. The scale and breadth of the crisis presents an opening to tackle these structural problems and reset the rules.

CR’s strategy will focus on three goals. First, we will advocate for consumers to emerge from the economic crisis unharmed: From auto and student loans to mortgages and credit card debt, consumers should not face a greater debt burden or damaged credit scores due to forces out of their control.

Second, we will strengthen foundational consumer protections where our efforts can have the most impact. CR will sustain its long commitment to and engagement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, seeking to reverse a trend of weakening oversight. We will also work to expand protections in states through model state laws and regulatory protections in California, New York, and elsewhere. Our mass market, nonpartisan brand and our geographically diverse membership will help engage lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Third, we will ensure that financial protections are applied and enforced equally in the digital marketplace. Regulators and advocates are stymied by the complexity of digital finance, and powerful corporations argue that consumer protections limit innovation and wealth creation. CR has developed respected in-house expertise on digital transactions, which, coupled with our capacity to test, enables us to speak with authority about the consumer harms embedded in digital finance. We must ensure that digital financial tools help consumers, emerging harms are not normalized, and old biases are not replicated in new products. Our success will be defined by our ability to build partnerships with young, diverse consumers who are acutely aware of the ways in which technology and data are being used against them.

How will we know if we succeeded?

Foundational consumer protections are preserved and strengthened.
Digital financial tools enhance financial well-being and do not create risks.
Financial transactions are transparent and fair, and do not trap consumers in debt.

Population(s) Served

We will ensure that innovation and consumer safety go hand in hand.

In the COVID-19 era, we are sharply reminded that public health and safety are the foundation of a functioning society, and both government and the private sector have critical roles to play. We can provide clear and accessible information to help consumers manage day-to-day risks; call out price-gouging, deception, and scams involving products and services; and advocate to ensure that our food supply remains safe. As we mourn the loss of tens of thousands of Americans to the coronavirus, we must also act on the highly preventable deaths and injuries generated by failures in the marketplace each year, and, in particular, ensure that our homes are truly a safe haven for all ages.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data preceding the COVID-19 pandemic showed unintentional injuries as the third leading cause of death in the U.S., following only heart disease and cancer, and a top cause of death for those under 45. In recent years, car crashes have accounted for at least 36,000 deaths and 2.7 million injuries per year, while incidents involving consumer products are tied to at least 8,000 deaths and 15.5 million emergency room visits per year. Foodborne illnesses leave 3,000 people dead, 128,000 hospitalized, and 48 million people sick each year.

Consumers often bear the burden of protecting themselves and paying the hidden economic costs of marketplace harm. Many companies see safety as a cost driver or as an opportunity to charge a premium for new features. Weak government oversight and the underfunding of key agencies undermine legal protections, which are opposed by a well-resourced industry. Legal redress for consumers is slow and costly, and frequently hides risks from public view.

Safety has been a hallmark of CR’s work for decades: We bring the capacity to lead on multiple issues while leveraging the reach and political diversity of our members. With these strengths in mind, CR will establish a new standard for safety across the marketplaces for transportation, home products, and food through strong mandatory rules and voluntary standards, partnerships, consumer demand (including our ratings), and public pressure. We will also work to strengthen the nation’s core safety agencies, with a legislative focus on reforming the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And we will ensure that innovation and consumer safety go hand in hand.

How will we know if we succeeded?

Strong minimum safety standards prevent and reduce consumer harms.
Consumers can buy safe products with confidence.
Companies are held accountable for the safety of their products and services.

Population(s) Served

We have the opportunity to bend the curve of consumption toward a sustainable future.

The nation has failed to put the marketplace on track to avoid catastrophic climate change, which requires limiting warming to 1.5°C and attaining carbon neutrality by 2050—a failure that will cost our country as much as $500 billion a year by the middle of the century. Transportation is the leading cause of climate pollution and a top contributor of other air pollutants that result in nearly 100,000 U.S. deaths per year. Companies have few incentives to build for durability or factor in the full environmental cost of production, distribution, use, and disposal, and the online marketplace has amplified these harms. A lack of government leadership on a national and global scale, resulting in part from strong corporate power, is inhibiting political solutions.

The American public now recognizes the real threat of climate change, and it’s the top concern for millennials and Gen Zers. However, consumers struggle to evaluate the sustainability of products and services and the total cost of ownership, even as they face higher household costs (for food, home insurance, healthcare, and utilities). Low-income families and communities of color are disproportionately affected by extreme weather events, exposure to air pollutants, and a lack of cost-effective sustainable choices. At the same time, Latinos and African Americans have a stronger-than-average interest in addressing climate change.

CR will build the partnerships needed to scope, define, and advance a strategy that could focus on any number of issues, from carbon emissions to air and water quality to plastics and other toxic waste. The strategy will leverage CR’s traditional strengths while exploring opportunities to develop new products and services that provide benefits to members while driving impact. We will prioritize markets and industries where durability and total cost of ownership have a nexus with lower emissions, lower waste, and lower cost.

While spurring others to aim higher, we must also measure and reduce our own carbon footprint. Our passionate staff has already identified measures to reduce plastic and other waste in our facilities, and we have invested heavily in our infrastructure and our cultural capacity for working remotely to reduce commuting and travel. This is the beginning of our own sustainability journey.

We have a track record of promoting energy and fuel efficiency through ratings and policy, and we are committed to bringing the full power of CR to address climate change and environmental issues more broadly. We have the opportunity to bend the curve of consumption toward a sustainable future and to build a bridge to the young and diverse members who will shape consumer issues in the next half-century.

How will we know if we succeeded?

Strong minimum standards prevent and reduce environmental and consumer harms.
Consumers reduce emissions and waste by purchasing more sustainable products and services, and taking other actions to reduce individual footprints.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of overall donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Donors and philanthropic partners play a critical role in creating a fair and just marketplace. We are grateful to all of those who provide generous philanthropic support

Number of unique website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our focus is informing consumers through expert-driven product reviews, award-winning investigative journalism, trusted consumer guidance, and reporting on safety rules and standards we advocate for.

Total number of organization members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Members get access to a wide range of easy-to-use tools that keep them safer, save them money, and help them get the most out of what they own, like Car Recall Tracker and New Car Savings.

Signatures and emails sent by members & activists to policymakers and companies

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We work directly with activists for strong consumer protection laws in Congress and states and to expose corporations that do wrong by customers—and encourage companies heading in the right direction.

Number of tip over related furniture recalls

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Safety

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Decreasing

Context Notes

CR works with the parents of child victims of furniture tipovers to educate people about the deadly dangers of furniture tipovers and advocate for safer furniture.

The number of infant inclined sleepers recalled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Safety

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

CR's investigation into child deaths linked to infant incline sleepers led to major recalls. Major retailers committed to ban them and put safeguards in place to prevent them from being resold.

Estimated fees saved on cable, satellite, and other pay TV companies bills

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Financial Fairness

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Decreasing

Context Notes

That’s how much companies were estimated to be charging in extra fees on customers' bills, according to a CR analysis of real bills we collected from people across the country.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Consumer Reports works to create a fair and just marketplace for all. As a mission-driven, independent, nonprofit member organization, CR empowers and informs consumers, incentivizes corporations to act responsibly, and helps policymakers prioritize the rights and interests of consumers in order to shape a truly consumer-driven marketplace.

Our model activates three levers in the marketplace: empower consumers to make better-informed decisions, influence business leaders to act responsibly and improve supply, and spur rulemakers to prioritize the rights and interests of consumers.
• Shape the marketplace. We rigorously test, review, and report on products and services, equipping consumers to make meaningful choices that improve their own lives and move the marketplace to better meet their needs.
• Influence businesses. As the leading champion of consumers, we are uniquely positioned to work with businesses to improve products and practices, bringing safer and healthier options to the market
• Guide rulemakers. We bring together our scientific expertise and nonpartisan analysis with the power of consumer coalitions to elevate common sense, consumer-friendly rules (legislation and regulation), fight policies that harm consumers, and rebalance market forces to favor consumers’ health, safety, privacy, and financial security.

Research & Testing
Our consumer product and service testing center, in Westchester, New York, is the largest nonprofit educational and consumer product testing center in the world. And our 327-acre auto test center, in Colchester, CT., is the world’s largest and most sophisticated independent automobile testing center devoted to consumer interests. CR buys products and services at retail, just as consumers do, to ensure that they are identical to the ones consumers take home.

Media
CR produces a broad media portfolio spanning online, print and TV, focused on informing consumers and the marketplace through expert-driven product reviews, award-winning investigative journalism, trusted consumer guidance, and reporting on the regulatory and safety rules and standards that we advocate for on behalf of consumers. With a team of roughly 140 writers and editors, designers, and video, social media and web producers, as well as a multimedia operations staff, CR is one of world’s most influential mission-driven media organizations.

Advocacy
The advocacy division of CR directs our efforts to secure strong pro-consumer policies and practices in government and across industries. We have won important victories for consumers to ensure that the cars, food, and other products we buy are safe, raise the standards for financial services, and improve health and well-being.

In the eight-plus decades since our founding, CR and our members have fought—and won—key battles to protect our personal and financial health, ensure the safety of our children and families, and advance the equitable treatment of Americans regardless of race, gender, age, or ZIP code. Without CR, seat belts would not be standard in cars, women would not have access to information on contraception, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would not exist to protect consumers from deceptive and abusive practices. In a time when our government has increasingly abandoned its oversight responsibilities, CR has emerged as a parallel regulator, often single-handedly compelling manufacturers to redress the harms and injury they have caused consumers and signaling to government when it has failed to safeguard the public from harm. And as the world braces for the immediate impact—and long-term aftershocks—of a global pandemic and the extraordinary economic disruption left in its wake, CR will be a pillar of accurate information, of clarity and trust, of expert guidance, and of fearless actions as we lift ourselves out of the crisis and build a marketplace that will serve people’s needs in the uncertain days to come.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    SMS text surveys, Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

Consumer Reports Inc
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Consumer Reports Inc

Board of directors
as of 7/29/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Joaquin Alvarado

StudioToBe

Deborah Cowan

NPR

Edmund Mierzwinski

United States Public Interest Research Group

Willard Ogburn

National Consumer Law Center

Betsy Scolnik

Strategist

Micah Sifry

Writer

Ellen Taus

The Rockefeller Foundation, Retired

Calvin Sims

International House

Kathleen Engel

Suffolk University

Joanne Hovis

CTC Technology & Energy

Willie May

Morgan State University

Russell Noles

Nuveen, Retired

Stephen Hoover

Global Cybersecurity Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology

Jamie Kelleher

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Annette LoVoi

National Appleseed, Retired

Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman

New Media Ventures

Astrid Vermeer

World Education Services

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/25/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/25/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.