New Websites Cloud Choices to Give
Wallingford, CT - November 1, 2012 – In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many people are opening their hearts and their wallets to those less fortunate. But before you send that text gift, click "donate," or write that check, Better Business Bureau offers words of experience.
Technology gives opportunists a fast, cheap, easy and anonymous way of tricking donors into lining their own greedy pockets and in the last few days, domain names for www.HurricaneSandyRelief.org, http://www.DonateHurricaneSandy.com and http://www.HurricaneSandy.org have been registered. By who and for what purpose remains to be seen.
In addition to looking at established charities with proven performance in getting donations to where they can make the biggest impact, your BBB offers advice to help people decide where to direct gifts to assist storm victims and their families.
Be cautious when giving online.
Be very careful making donations online, especially in response to spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. If you are seeking to give to a charity organization involved in relief efforts, go directly to the charity's website.
Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity.
Use caution when relying on third-party recommendations such as from bloggers or other websites, as they might not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. Donors are recommended to visit BBB Wise Giving Alliance to research charities and relief organizations to verify that they are accredited by BBB and meet its 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims.
Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fundraising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. If a charity claims 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting victims, the truth is that the organization is still probably incurring fundraising and administrative expenses. They may use some of their other funds to pay this, but the expenses will still be incurred.
Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas.
See if the charity's website clearly describes what they can do to address immediate needs. Watch out for charities that don't already have staff in the affected areas as they may not be able to provide assistance quickly.
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 charities that have a presence in the region. At a minimum, check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to ensure the organizations are equipped to effectively provide aid.
Donations made via your mobile device.
The BBB Mobile Giving Foundation works with the wireless operators to ensure that mobile giving campaigns for emergency relief efforts adopt this same degree of caution before launching fundraising efforts. Wireless operators do support all qualified mobile giving campaigns without taking any fees, although billing platforms such as the BBB Mobile Giving Foundation, do recover transaction costs.
All campaigns are compliant to industry best practices and regulatory requirements. Official mobile giving campaigns in support of emergency relief efforts are restricted to qualified campaigns, and can be verified by visiting www.mobilegiving.org.
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 people in need - unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to be able to properly distribute such aid. Ask the charity about its transportation and distribution plans, and find out what is its greatest need. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.
Disaster victims should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or to donate to an unknown charity. To verify mobile giving campaigns these charities are running please visit the BBB Mobile Giving Foundation at www.mobilegiving.org.
The Federal trade Commission (FTC) also recommends these resources for donors:
Disaster Recovery, Charity Fraud, Charity Checklist, and Charitable Donations: Give or Take?
Start With Trust. For reliable information, lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by industry and BBB Business Reviews you can trust on local businesses and charities, visit http://www.bbb.org.