As the public’s attention and hearts are focused on the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, BBB Wise Giving Alliance advises donors to take steps to avoid being taken by questionable solicitors or wasting their money on poorly managed relief efforts. The typhoon that hit the Philippines over the weekend, described as the most powerful in the world this year, has destroyed an entire town. More than 10,000 are feared dead.
“When we see the horrific results of a natural disaster, we want to help quickly,” notes H. Art Taylor, president and CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. “But donors sometimes forget to follow common sense. As with all charitable giving, we are advising donors to do some research first. Find out what individual charities are doing and the time frame of their work. Donors who know what to expect from the charities they support are less likely to question the benefit of their gifts.”
BBB Wise Giving Alliance cautions donors to avoid the following five giving mistakes when making disaster relief donations:
Mistake # 1:
Making a donation decision based solely on charity’s name
Charities ranging from well-known emergency relief organizations to organizations experienced in reconstruction will likely be soliciting for various relief assistance efforts. Make sure the appeal specifies how the charity will help. If it does not, visit the charity’s website. Also, watch out for charity names that include the name of the disaster – it could be a start-up group with little experience or a questionable effort seeking to gain confidence through its title.
Mistake # 2:
Collecting clothing and goods without verifying that items can be used
Unless you have verified that a charity is in need of specific items and has a distribution plan in place, collecting clothing, food and other goods may end up being a wasted effort. Relief organizations often prefer to purchase goods near the location of the disaster to help speed delivery and avoid expensive long distance freight costs. Also, sending non-essential items may actually slow down the charity’s ability to address urgent needs.
Mistake # 3
: sending donations to inexperienced relief efforts
Good intentions alone are not enough to carry out relief activities effectively. If the charity has not previously been involved in disaster relief, or does not have experience in assisting the overseas nation(s) that have been impacted, this likely will hamper their ability to work well in the affected areas.
Mistake # 4:
responding to online and social media appeals without checking
Don’t let your guard down just because the appeal is online. Don’t assume that since a third-party blog, website or friend recommended a relief charity that it has been thoroughly vetted. Check out the charity’s website on your own.
donating without doing your homework
Find out if a charity meets recognized accountability standards. If you want assurance that the charity is transparent, accountable, and well managed, see if it meets the BBB Wise Giving Alliance’s 20 “Standards for Charity Accountability” by visiting give.org.