The Better Business Bureau and BBB Wise Giving Alliance applaud the generosity of people who want to help with Hurricane Dorian relief efforts, but advise caution to make sure their donations get to the people who need it most.
“As Dorian is predicted to be a devastating storm,” notes Art Taylor, president and CEO of BBB’s Give.org. “most of us will be motivated to provide immediate help. Donations to experienced disaster relief efforts are the best option to achieve that goal.”
The National Weather Service reports that Hurricane Dorian has brought over 30 inches of rain to portions of the Bahamas. Surge flooding volume on the East Coast is anticipated between three to eight feet. As the devastation of this storm on communities in the Bahamas and East Coast becomes apparent, many will seek to contribute to help those in need.
BBBs are already seeing crowdfunding appeals of a dubious nature, and in the days ahead expect to see “storm chasers” looking to make a quick buck off of clean-up efforts (bbb.org/storm). Consumers can report suspected scams to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).
BBB Wise Giving Alliance suggests donors keep the following tips in mind to help avoid questionable appeals for support:
• Verify the trustworthiness of soliciting relief organizations by visiting Give.org to access free reports that specify if the charity meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.
• See if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas. Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to bring in new aid workers to provide assistance quickly. See if the charity’s website clearly describes what the charity can do to address immediate needs.
• 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 those that have a presence in the region. Or, at a minimum, check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to see whether they are equipped to provide aid effectively.
• Be cautious about 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 distribute such aid properly. Ask the charity about its transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.
• Understand crowdfunding. Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals who decide to post for assistance after a disaster, and it is often difficult for donors to verify the trustworthiness of crowdfunding requests for support. If you decide to contribute via crowdfunding, it is probably best to give to people who you personally know that have posted requests for assistance. For more Give.org tips on crowdfunding, check out this Wise Giving Wednesday post.
• Phases of disaster relief. Remember that every disaster has several phases – rescue, emergency relief, and recovery. Each part relies on public support and continuing funding for success. The need for donations doesn’t stop when the headlines do.
The following is a list of BBB Accredited Charities (i.e., organizations that meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability) that are raising funds for Hurricane Dorian relief assistance. This list will be updated as additional relief efforts come to BBB WGA’s attention. They are as follows:
American Humane; American Red Cross; Direct Relief; Global Giving; Humane Society of the United States; Heart to Heart International; Salvation Army; Save the Children; World Vision.
Hannah Stiff is the Montana Marketplace Manager for BBB Northwest + Pacific. She can be reached at Hannah.email@example.com.