Give Wisely to Crowdfunding Campaigns After a Disaster

Sadly, another natural disaster has made the headlines. Greg Abbott, Governor of the State of Texas, has issued a state of emergency for 18 counties in response to severe weather and flooding that began on October 7, 2018. Prolonged flooding and widespread property damage have swept Central Texas.

BBB and BBB Wise Giving Alliance encourage generosity to help victims as they start to evaluate any damage done and begin the clean-up process but also caution donors to avoid questionable appeals.

Crowdfunding, a tool for raising large amounts of money from multiple donors usually online, is a growing way for charities and individuals to acquire donations for their cause. With the click of a button, you can fund charitable projects and events or give aid to those in need of emergency financial assistance.

While online crowdfunding platforms have made donating to charitable causes more popular, easy and efficient than ever before, BBB recommends thoroughly researching before donating. Consider these six tips to help make a wise donation decision.

  1. Be especially careful after a disaster or tragedy. Watch out for those seeking to take advantage of high public sympathy immediately after a disaster or tragedy by setting up a crowdfunding project that may have no official connection to any charitable organization and may be using names and photos of victims without the families’ permission.
  2. Keep in mind that not all crowdfunding sites operate in the same way. Crowdfunding websites run by charitable organizations can provide opportunities to learn more about the organization’s programs, finances and whether they are registered to solicit with state government agencies.
  3. Read the fine print. Crowdfunding sites vary in terms of whether the donors or the project organizer will be charged for site administrative costs and credit card fees. If a project does not achieve its targeted fundraising goal, sites also vary as to whether the donation will be refunded.
  4. Don’t assume your donation or gift is tax deductible. If you are funding a project run by an individual instead of a charity, the funding you provide may not be deductible as a charitable gift for federal income tax purposes.
  5. Be wary of websites that don’t provide a privacy policy. Before making online donations, determine whether the charity’s website is secure and that is has a privacy policy concerning the use of your name, email address or other personal information.
  6. Be sure to check out bbb.org. BBB has more than 11,000 Charity Reviews, covering local as well as national nonprofit organizations. BBB Charity Reviews let donors know whether a charity has complied with BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, 20 standards designed to show that a charity is transparent about its operations and fundraising and that they follow good governance practices.

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