August 19, 2016
Often times after natural disasters, people want to help others by making monetary donations to various charities. However, it’s important to research charities so that you know that your money is going to benefit the intended cause.
Tips for making charitable donations after a natural disaster:
- Carefully review donation requests. Do some research to make sure your donation will be used as intended. After a natural disaster or national tragedy, some sham charities pop up to take advantage of people’s generosity.
- Evaluate charities using resources such as the Ohio Attorney General’s Office (or the offices of other state attorneys general), IRS Select Check, Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, and GuideStar.
- Beware of “look-alike” websites or accounts. Be skeptical of charities or groups with names that sound similar to well-known organizations. They may be intended to confuse donors.
- Be careful when giving to newly formed charities. Some charities that are formed shortly after a natural disaster or tragedy have good intentions but lack the experience to properly handle donors’ contributions. Established charities are more likely to have experience to respond following a tragedy and to have a track record that you can review.
- Check out crowdfunding campaigns before donating. If you want to make a contribution using a crowdfunding or peer-to-peer fundraising site, find out how your donation will be used before donating. Try to determine which campaigns are legitimate and supported by those close to the tragedy, and which haven’t been vetted. (Some people ask for donations claiming to help victims but ultimately keep the money for themselves.)
- Review claims carefully. Some groups sell merchandise online and claim that “100 percent of the proceeds” will benefit a specific charitable purpose, but this claim does not necessarily mean 100 percent of the sales price will go toward the cause. Contact the organization to ask how much of each purchase will support the cause. If the organization cannot give you an answer, consider donating another way.
Signs of a potential charity scam include:
- High-pressure tactics.
- No details about how your donation will be used.
- Refusal to provide written information about the charity.
- Organizations with names that sound similar to other better-known organizations.
- Requests for donations made payable to a person instead of a charity.
- Offers to pick up donations immediately versus in the mail or online.