WISCONSIN — A lot of well-meaning Wisconsin residents are looking to help out in any way they can after s devastated the East Coast this week. Meanwhile, scam artists are looking to make a quick buck from those with good intentions.
The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau has offered some tips for those looking to make donations in Sandy’s wake.
The Wisconsin BBB offers the following six tips when choosing where to direct donations:
- Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity.
Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other websites, as they might not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. Thanks to BBB Wise Giving, the public can go to bbb.org/charity to research charities and relief organizations to verify that they are accredited by the BBB and meet the 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 fund raising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee unless waived under special circumstances.
- Be cautious when giving online.
With today’s technology, a website can literally be built in an hour mimicking a legitimate charitable organization wanting to scam you out of your money. For this reason, be wary of spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization.
- Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in impacted areas.
Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to get new aid workers to quickly provide assistance. See if the charity’s website clearly describes what they can do to address immediate needs.
- Find out if the charity provides direct aid or raises money for other groups.
Some charities raise money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider avoiding the middleman and give 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.
- 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 those in need unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to properly distribute such aid. Ask the charity about its transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those that are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.
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