Tips on Donating to Disaster Relief Charities

November 09, 2012

Contact: Tracey Anton, Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications
Phone: 212-358-2828
Email: Click Here

New York, November 5, 2012

- In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated many areas in the northeastern U.S., particularly in the tri-state area, the BBB Serving Metropolitan New York offers the following tips to help donors decide where to direct disaster relief donations:

Be cautious when giving online.
Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to unsolicited email or text messages or social media posts that claim to link to a relief organization. If you want to give to a charity involved in relief efforts, go directly to the charity’s website. In response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the Asian tsunamis, the FBI and others raised concerns about new charitable organizations that were created overnight, allegedly to help victims.

Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity.
Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other websites, as they may not have fully researched the relief organizations they list. The public can go to to research charities and relief organizations and verify that they are accredited by the BBB and meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims.
Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. It may use some of its other funds to pay these costs, but the expenses will still be incurred.

Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas.
Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to bring in new aid workers to provide assistance quickly. See if the charity’s website clearly describes what the charity can do to address immediate needs.

Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups.
Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and giving directly to those that have a presence in the region. At a minimum, check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to see whether they are equipped to provide aid effectively.

Gifts of clothing, food or other supplies.
Drives for food and clothing, while well intentioned, may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need – unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to distribute such aid properly. Ask the charity about its transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those organizations who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.

For more tips you can trust, visit, and to sign up for our weekly scam alerts, visit

About BBB Serving Metropolitan New York

For 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2011, consumers turned to BBB more than 103 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies and Charity Reports on about 11,000 charities, all available for free at There are 114 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, serving you with BBB reports, scam prevention tips, educational programs, and help in resolving consumer-business disputes.

The BBB Serving Metropolitan New York was founded in 1922. Please visit or for more information.