[October 25, 2007] Arlington, VA – Many Americans want to help the thousands of Southern Californians displaced by the wildfires, and the most common way people across the country can do this is by making donations to the many relief agencies and charities already at work.
However, as with every natural disaster, there are some unscrupulous people who will attempt to take advantage of the public’s eagerness to help victims and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advice for donors to ensure their donations go to trustworthy relief efforts.
“In the face of any disaster, Americans will immediately step forward with donations to aid the victims and their families,” said Art Taylor, CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. “Unfortunately, as we saw after Hurricane Katrina, scammers will try to take advantage of the generosity of the public; that’s why it’s important to take your time and do your research before donating to a charity relief effort.”
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advice to make sure your donations go to worthy charities and relief efforts:
- Before making a contribution, go to www.bbb.org/charity to obtain detailed evaluative reports on many of the relief organizations providing assistance.
- Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances and programs.
- Do not hesitate to ask for written information that describes the charity’s program(s) and finances such as the charity’s latest annual report and financial statements.
- Find out what the charity intends to do with any excess contributions remaining after they have fully funded the disaster relief activities mentioned in solicitations.
- Do not give cash. Checks or money orders should be made out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.
- Keep an eye out for fake charities that imitate the name and style of well-known organizations in order to confuse people and potentially steal personal information such as credit card numbers.
- Don’t give in to excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations. Be wary of any request to send a “runner” to pick up your contribution.
- Think twice about donating to any charity that is inexperienced in carrying out relief efforts but is suddenly soliciting for aid for Southern California. Although well intentioned, such organizations may not have the ability to quickly deliver aid to those in need.
- Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing what the charity will do to address the needs of victims and their families.
- Do not give your credit card number or other personal information to a telephone solicitor or in response to an e-mail solicitation.
- To help ensure your contribution is tax deductible, donations should be made to charitable organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Go to IRS Publication 78 on www.irs.gov for a current list of all organizations eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable gifts.
For more information on the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and to view more than one thousand BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on charities across the nation go to www.give.org.
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About the BBB System
BBB is an unbiased, non-profit entity that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses and charities that earn BBB membership contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business Reliability Reports and charity Wise Giving Reports, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 128 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 3 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.
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