BBB Advice on Donating by Text Message to Haiti Relief Efforts

  
     
January 21, 2010

In the wake of the earthquake disaster in Haiti, Americans are donating via text message more than ever before. BBB Wise Giving Alliance advises donors that giving through text can be a safe and easy way to give—but you should still use caution.

Within days following the disaster in Haiti, it was widely reported that more than $3 million was donated through text message to such organizations as the Red Cross and others.

“It’s encouraging that people are making small donations through text messages,” said Andy Fisher, President of the BBB Serving Central Louisiana and the Ark-La-Tex. “An incredible amount of money will be needed to address the crisis in Haiti and charities will certainly welcome gifts made through any means available. However, donors should still do their due diligence to make sure their money is going to trustworthy charities.”

BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips on giving through text messages:

  • Confirm the number directly with the source. While BBB Wise Giving Alliance has not yet heard of any scams relying on text message donations, this emerging method for donating is ripe for exploitation by scammers.
  • Be aware that text donations are not immediate. Depending on the text message service used by the charity, text donations can take anywhere from 30-90 days to be transferred to the designated charity. If you would like the donation to be received immediately by the charity, you can give online through the charity Web site, by calling the charity directly or by sending a check in the mail.
  • Review the fine print. When you give to a charity through text message, you might also be signing yourself up to receive text message updates from the charity in the future. A charity should include the details of its text campaign on its Web site so you can see what you’re signing up for and how you can opt out.
  • Research the charity. Giving wisely to a charity isn’t just about making sure that the solicitation isn’t coming from scammers. Wise donors make sure their donations are going to charities that are best equipped to help in the relief efforts and will responsibly use the money for its intended purpose.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance has compiled a list of charities which are seeking to provide assistance in response to the earthquake in Haiti and meet BBB Standards for Charity Accountability at http://www.bbb.org/us/haiti-earthquake-relief/

For more information or to schedule an interview with a BBB Wise Giving Alliance spokesperson, contact Alison Southwick at 703-247-9376.

About the BBB Wise Giving Alliance

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance produces reports on over 1,200 nationally soliciting charitable organizations. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance does not rank charities but rather seeks to assist donors in making informed judgments by providing objective evaluations of national charities based on 20 strict standards. The outcomes of the evaluations – or BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM – are available online at www.bbb.org/charity. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance is an affiliate of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the national organization representing 123 BBBs serving communities across the U.S. and Canada – evaluating and monitoring nearly 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about BBB.