Sacramento, Ca.,— Oct. 30, 2012 – As national charities deploy thousands of rescue workers to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Better Business Bureau warns donors to research organizations thoroughly before giving money or donations.
“In times of need, scammers are likely to appear and take advantage of good will,” said Gary Almond, CEO of BBB serving northeast California. “If a consumer wants to help, they should make sure their donation is actually going to assist those in need.”
BBB offers the following tips for wise giving:
Rely on expert opinions.
Use caution when taking recommendations from third-parties such as bloggers. The third-party may not have researched the recommending organizations thoroughly. Visit bbb.org/charity
to quickly research charity and relief organizations.
Be cautious when giving online.
Be cautious in response to emails and 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 Hurricane Katrina and the Joplin tornado, the FBI and others raised concerns about websites and new organizations that were created overnight.
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.
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. Check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to see if they are equipped to provide aid effectively.
Give gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations wisely.
The donations may be more of a burden than gift if the organization does not have 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.
Media: BBB representative available for interview. Call 916-443-6843 for more information.
As a business-supported nonprofit organization, Better Business Bureau's mission
is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBB sets standards for ethical business behavior, helps consumer identify reliable businesses through BBB Business Reviews, sets standards for truthful advertising, evaluates and provides reviews of charities, educates consumers, and offers dispute resolution services. More than 87 million consumers rely on BBB for Business Reviews, consumer tips and scam alerts. To learn more, please visit www.necal.bbb.org