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Categorized | Business

BBB Tips: Giving disaster relief donations wisely

As rescue missions continue in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida, people here in Western Michigan want to help in any way possible. That can often mean contributing to fundraisers to help rescue and recovery efforts. Unfortunately, scammers often take advantage of these country-wide calls for help. 

“There are many campaigns set up by well-intended individuals, who may not be able to deliver on their promises,” says Phil Catlett, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “Giving to established charities with access and workers in the disaster area is the best way to assure your money is going to help victims directly.”

BBB Wise Giving Alliance urges donors to give thoughtfully and avoid those seeking to take advantage of the generosity of others. Here are five tips for trusted giving:

1. Seek out experienced charities. An established charity will more likely have the capacity and experience in disaster relief activities and already have a presence in the impacted areas. That usually provides the quickest means to deliver aid to as many people as possible. Visit Give.org to find established charities and to verify if a charity meets the BBB Standards for Charitable Accountability. 

2. Consider Giving Money Rather Than Goods. Donating money is the quickest way to help and provides charities the flexibility to channel resources to impacted areas. Also, find out if a charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. If the money is being passed along to other relief organizations, cut out the middle-man and donate directly. 

3. Be Wary of 100 Percent Claims. Watch out for claims that 100 percent of donations will assist victims and/or their families. The organization is probably still incurring administrative and fundraising expenses, even if it is using other funds to cover these costs.

4. Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe and IndieGoGo (both BBB Accredited Businesses) can be used to help share the stories of individuals, families, and communities in need and to solicit funds from generous donors. GoFundMe has information on how to determine if a fundraiser is legitimate and about their centralized hub for identifying verified fundraisers related to the storm. IndieGogo also has information on how to evaluate a campaign.

5. Online Caution. Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in text messages or email. These may take you to a look-alike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or may download harmful malware onto your computer. Don’t assume that charity recommendations on social media have already been vetted.

Here is a list of BBB Accredited Charities raising funds for Hurricane Ida disaster relief. 

  • American Red Cross – BBB Wise Giving Alliance Report – Hurricane Ida Activities
  • Americares – BBB Wise Giving Alliance Report – Hurricane Ida Activities
  • Brother’s Brother Foundation – BBB Wise Giving Alliance Report – Hurricane Ida Activities
  • Feed The Children – BBB Wise Giving Alliance Report – Hurricane Ida Activities 
  • Heart to Heart International – BBB Wise Giving Alliance Report – Hurricane Ida Activities
  • Operation USA – BBB Wise Giving Alliance Report – Hurricane Ida Activities
  • Salvation Army – BBB Wise Giving Alliance Report – Hurricane Ida Activities
  • Save the Children – BBB Wise Giving Alliance Report – Hurricane Ida Activities

If you find or become a victim of a scammer trying to take advantage of charitable giving, report it to the BBB Scam Tracker. 

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Ray Winnie
Intandem Credit Union

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