Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – November 11, 2013 – Last Friday, one of the most devastating typhoons on record battered the Philippines, resulting in massive destruction and numerous casualties. In the wake of this natural disaster, your Better Business Bureau is urging Americans, who are seeking ways to aid in relief efforts, to contribute wisely and be cautious of fraudulent charities that may arise. Typically, BBB sees such schemes develop shortly after a tragedy to prey on the sympathy of well-meaning donors.
“Anytime there is an unexpected tragedy of this magnitude, the generosity of donors willing to step up and provide resources for victims is overwhelming,” says Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “Your Better Business Bureau wants contributors to do their research and have a firm understanding of the charitable organizations they are supporting and how their donation is actually being used.”
BBB offers the following advice for donors wishing to contribute to the Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts:
- Be able to identify red flags. Is the charity claiming that 100 percent of donations assist victims or the cause? Consider this a red flag, as all charities have fundraising and administrative costs and at a minimum, must pay a processing fee for credit card donations. Does the charity avoid answering specific questions about the organization? Be wary of solicitors who cannot or will not answer your questions. In addition, consider it a red flag if the organization is insisting on a cash donation and refuses to provide a receipt.
- Make your donation count. Unless a charity already has staff in the affected area, it may be difficult to get new aid workers into the area to provide assistance. Verify what the charity is doing to address immediate needs. If you are donating gifts of clothing and food, consider the organization’s transportation and distribution plans. Your donation may be more of a burden than a help. If the organization you are considering is actually raising money for other charitable groups instead of providing direct aid, you may want to avoid the middleman altogether and give directly to charities with a presence in the region.
- Don’t give in to high-pressure pitches. Charitable donors should never feel forced into making a hasty decision or donating to an unknown charity. Beware of appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but avoid telling you about how your donation will be used. Keep in mind that a legitimate charity will welcome your donation at any time, so take your time in understanding how your hard-earned money will be used. If a solicitor pressures you to donate immediately without allowing you time to research the organization, reconsider your donation.
For additional information about wise giving and to research a BBB Charity Review, visit www.give.org or call 877.267.5222.
About the BBB System
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, 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, 113 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4.5 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.