“Tragedy inspires people to give, and this terrible tragedy is drawing incredible response already from people all around the world” said H. Art Taylor, president and CEO, Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance “The best way to help the victims, their families, and the people of Orlando is to make sure that donations end up where they belong.”
Taylor said the BBB is already hearing about click-bait schemes and questionable solicitations, and it expects there will many scams and frauds.
The BBB offers these ten tips for giving with confidence:
- Thoughtful giving
Take the time to check out the charity to avoid giving your donation to a questionable or poorly managed effort. The first request for a donation may not be the best choice. Find trusted charities that are providing assistance.
- Government registration
About 40 of the 50 states in the United States require charities to register with a state government agency, often a division of the state Attorney General’s Office, before they solicit for charitable gifts. If the charity isn’t registered, that’s a significant red flag.
- Respecting victims and their families
Organizations raising funds should get permission from the families to use either the names of the victims and/or any photographs of them. Some charities raising funds for the Colorado movie theater victims didn’t do this and were criticized by the victims’ families.
- How will donations be used?
Watch out for vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use for the donations. For example, how will the funds help victims’ families? Also, see if the appeal identifies when the collected funds will be used.
- What if a family sets up its own assistance fund?
These funds may not be set up as charities. Also, make sure that collected monies are received and administered by a third party such as a bank, CPA, or lawyer. This will help provide oversight and ensure the collected funds are used appropriately, for example, paying for funeral costs, counseling, and other tragedy-related needs.
- Advocacy organizations
Tragedies that involve violent acts with firearms can also generate requests from organizations that address gun use. Be aware that some of these advocacy groups aren’t tax exempt as charities. Also, watch out for newly created advocacy groups that will be difficult to check out.
- Online cautions
Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where you’ll be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on something that downloads harmful malware into your computer. Don’t assume that charity recommendations on Facebook, blogs, or other social media have already been vetted.
- Financial transparency
It’s important for organizations to provide an accounting of how funds were spent. Transparent organizations will post this information on their websites.
- Newly created or established organizations
An established charity will more likely have the experience to quickly address the circumstances and have a track record that can be evaluated. A newly formed organization will be difficult to check out and may not be well managed.
- Tax deductibility
Not all organizations collecting funds to assist this tragedy are tax exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in the U.S. Donors can support these groups, but won’t be able to take a tax deduction. In addition, contributions that are donor-restricted to help a specific individual/family aren’t deductible in the U.S. as charitable donations, even if the recipient organization is a charity.