Arlington, VA – As South Carolina works to overcome the aftermath of the historic and devastating flood that has impacted many homes and communities, many Americans are supporting disaster relief through donations. BBB Wise Giving Alliance advises donors to avoid questionable solicitations and take the time to ensure that contributions will be put to good use.
“The pictures out of South Carolina are heart-breaking,” said H. Art Taylor, president and CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, “but donors need to be mindful of some basic advice about supporting disaster relief so that their gifts get to those who need them most.”
Be cautious when giving online. Be cautious about spam messages and emails 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. Following Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti, the FBI and others raised concerns about websites and new 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 Give.org to research relief organizations and other charities to verify that they are accredited by BBB which means they 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. If a charity claims 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting disaster victims, the truth is that the organization is still probably incurring fund raising and administrative expenses. It may use some of its other funds to pay these costs, but the expenses will still be incurred.
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. Or, 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 in-kind donations. In-kind 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 who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.
ABOUT BBB WISE GIVING ALLIANCE: BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA) is a standards-based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of nationally-soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, effectiveness reporting, finances, fund raising, appeal accuracy, and other issues. Learn more about the 20 BBB Charity Standards and about local charity review at local Better Business Bureaus at Give.org