In the wake of Hurricane Sandy that caused massive property destruction and injuries in northeastern regions of the U.S., the Better Business Bureau serving Central and Eastern Kentucky offers tips to residents on deciding how to direct donations so they do the most good.
"The generosity of people shines through when their fellow human beings are in need," said Jack Frank, President & CEO of the BBB serving Central & Eastern Kentucky. "However, a disaster like this can also bring out con artists, or at the very least, well-intentioned but inexperienced groups in response. We want people who wish to give to do so, but do so wisely."
· Rely on expert opinion when 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. Check with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance (www.give.org) to research national charities and relief organizations and verify that they meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Or, call your BBB serving Central & Eastern Kentucky at (859) 259-1008 or 1-800-866-6668.
· Be cautious when giving online. Be wary of unsolicited spam messages, emails and social media posts that claim to link to a relief organization. If you want to give online to a charity involved in relief efforts, go directly to the charity’s website.
· Check out claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Despite what an organization might claim, charities have some costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. If a charity claims that 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting hurricane victims, the organization is still probably incurring some fund-raising and administrative expenses. It may use some of its other funds to pay these costs, but the expenses will still be incurred.
· Look for details when texting a donation. It has become more common to allow donors to send a quick text to make a donation. Make sure you understand the amount to be donated, and whether there will be any message or data fees charged by your provider in addition to your donation.
· Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations and on-the-ground presence. 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 distribution plans and experience in disaster relief, and if they have workers in place to assist.
For more information or to check out a company or charity, call the BBB toll-free at 1-800-866-6668 or click here.