AMARILLO -- The BBB Wise Giving Alliance advises donors to take steps to avoid being taken by questionable solicitors or wasting their money on poorly managed relief efforts.
"When we see the horrific results of a natural disaster, we want to help quickly," notes H. Art Taylor, president and CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. "But donors sometimes forget to follow common sense. As with all charitable giving, we are advising donors to do some research first. Find out what individual charities are doing and the time frame of their work. Donors who know what to expect from the charities they support are less likely to question the benefit of their gifts."
Be aware of these giving mistakes when making disaster relief donations:
- Don't give based solely on the charity's name.
Ask the charity how it will help and visit the charity's website. Watch out for charity names that include the name of the disaster - it could be a start-up group with little experience or a questionable effort seeking to gain confidence through its title or to capitalize on news coverage.
- Don't collect clothing or other goods without first verifying the items can reach the victims and can be used.
Unless you have verified that a charity is in need of specific items and has a distribution plan in place, sending non-essential items may be a wasted effort. Relief organizations often prefer to purchase goods near the location of the disaster to help speed delivery and avoid freight costs.
- Don't send to inexperienced relief efforts.
If the charity has not previously been involved in disaster their efforts will likely hamper assistance and divert funds from other helpful organizations.
- Don't respond to online and social media appeals without checking.
Don't assume that since a third-party blog, website or friend recommended a relief charity that it has been thoroughly vetted.
"In a nutshell, use your head as well as your heart anytime you're responding to an appeal," said Janna Kiehl, BBB CEO. "It just makes sense."
Find out if a charity meets recognized accountability standards. If you want assurance that the charity is transparent, accountable, and well managed, see if it meets the BBB Wise Giving Alliances 20 Standards for Charity Accountability by visiting give.org.
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