Tag Archives: charity worth giving to

BBB urges consumers to give wisely in aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Even as rescue workers rush to the Atlantic Coast to help victims of Hurricane Sandy, Samaritans around the world are looking for ways to help victims of the devastating storm.

Better Business Bureau urges donors to be cautious when giving money or other help to charities.

Every natural disaster is followed by the crooks and scammers. If you are giving money or donating goods, you want to do everything possible to make sure your donations are doing real good.

The best way to help is to give money to a reputable humanitarian organization like the American Red Cross, a BBB Charity Seal holder. The American Red Cross has a long history of responding to local, national, and international disasters.

BBB offers the following tips to help you decide where to direct donations:

  • Rely on respected experts to check a charity. Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers, because they may not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. BBB provides a Wise Giving Guide to charities at www.bbb.org/charity. The guide shows which charities are accredited by the BBB and whether they meet BBB’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
  • Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations help victims. All charities have fund-raising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at least, a processing fee.
  • Be cautious when giving online to unfamiliar charities. Be wary of spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. After the tsunami disaster in 2004 and the earthquake in Haiti last year, many websites and organizations that were created overnight allegedly to help victims turned out to be scams.
  • Find out if the charity is in the affected areas. Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to get new aid workers into the area to give help. See if the charity’s website clearly describes what it can do to discuss immediate needs.
  • Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. You may want to avoid the middleman and give directly to charities that are in the region. Check out the last recipients of the donations to make sure that the organizations are equipped to effectively give aid.
  • Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations may not be proper. Unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to distribute such aid, the donations may be more of a burden than a help. Ask the charity about their transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.

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Just give me money, plea comes across Internet

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

The request is unlike any other request received at BBB, “I’m out of work, but I need money, so that’s why I’m making this plea to you.”

BBB sees anywhere from 10-15 scams daily, but this plea went beyond a scam. The cry for help came from a website called “experience project.” Founded by a graduate of Stanford University, it was developed as a site where people would post their life experiences. Armen Berjikly, founder, said it was inspired by a friend’s diagnosis with the debilitating disease MS. No one seemed to relate to what he felt or imagined he was going through.

“It gave voice to a group of people know to suffer in silence, and the opportunity to be among new friends, those who truly understood each other’s challenges,” he posted on the Experience Project.

Now considered the world’s largest living collection of shared experiences and passion-based networking. Millions have shared their personal and intimate feelings. Members claim the entire regurgitation allows people to grow, learn, educate and support one another.

The site was launched in 2007 and now has 24 experience categories, providing an online social conversation destination where people can connect with others who “really get it.”

Now that said, the plea was posted under the “sendmemoney.com” where there were several requests for money … everything from “help with utility bills” to “I’m getting kicked out of the house.”

The site is self monitored and scam reports are generated, posts are then tagged.

That said, if you’re giving to an individual person or charity, consider the following:

  •  Research the Charity in Advance. Before contributing, visit www.give.org to view a detailed report on the organization.
  • Ask Questions. Do not hesitate to ask for written information that describes the charity’s programs, community reputation, privacy policy and financial standing. If a charity is reluctant to answer these reasonable questions, it should be considered a red flag.
  • Avoid Giving Cash. Cash donations are difficult to track, making it harder for consumers to get tax deductions and easier for scammers to go unnoticed. It is best to use a credit or debit card which offers consumers protection for when a problem arises. If you must write a check, make it out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the person collecting the donation.
  • Be Wary of Imitations. Keep an eye out for fake charities that imitate the name and style of well-known organizations to potentially steal personal information such as credit card numbers.
  • Confirm Text Code Numbers. If you plan to give by text message, confirm the text code number directly with the charity. Also, keep in mind that text message donations are typically not immediate. Depending on your cell phone provider, the donation may not show up on your bill for 30 to 90 days.
  • Watch Out for High Pressure-Solicitations. Do not give in to excessive pressure for an immediate donation. Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion but short on describing what the charity will actually do to meet their organizational goals.
  • Protect your Personal Information. Never give your credit card number or other personal information in response to an unexpected telephone call, e-mail or personal message on your social media profile from someone who is soliciting a donation.

Find out about Tax Deductibility in Advance. For your donation to be tax-deductible, the charity must be tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Visit IRS Publication 78 on www.irs.gov for a current list of all organizations eligible to receive contributions that are deductible as charitable gifts.

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