In the wake of the devastating tornadoes that ripped through Oklahoma yesterday, and in North Texas last week, Better Business Bureau and BBB Wise Giving Alliance have issued tips to help donors make smart giving decisions and avoid scams.
“It’s in our nature to move quickly when we see others in distress,” said Carrie Hurt, president and CEO of BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin. “Especially now after seeing reports that these devastating storms took so many lives in Oklahoma. People naturally want to help. We encourage those willing to donate to do their research first so they can be sure those contributions are going to the right place.”
BBB Wise Giving Alliance is offering the following tips to help donors decide where to direct donations to assist victims:
- Be cautious when giving online. Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to unsolicited spam messages, and 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.
- 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 www.bbb.org/charity to research charities and relief organizations and verify that they are accredited by BBB and meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
- 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. 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.
BBB Wise Giving Alliance is asking anyone who receives a suspicious charitable solicitation to report it to BBB Report a Scam.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.