Vetting charities: How to make sure your donations count

Now that most of the water has receded and Texans are looking towards recovery, many people are still looking for ways to help.

Although you may see calls for donations all over social media, it’s best to be proactive and not reactive and vet charities before giving.

RELATED:  11 ways to help with Harvey relief

KHOU gathered tips from charity watchdogs Guidestar.org and the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org to make sure you’re giving wisely.

Verify that the charity is trustworthy

A little research can ensure your money is truly going to a worthy charity. Several websites offer charity reviews and background checks, including CharityNavigator.org, the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org and Guidestar.org, which includes financial information for charities.

Read the charity’s plan for dispersing donations

Visit the charity’s website and find out how they plan to spend the money. Will they hand it off to another charity? How do you want your donation sent? Will it go to cleaning supplies, pets, rebuilding efforts or directly to families? 

Keep crowdfunding donations personal

According to the Better Business Bureau, “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.” They recommend only contributing via crowdfunding if it’s going to someone you know personally. The BBB has more tips on crowdfunding.

RELATED:  BBB Crowdfunding Tips

Recovery is a long process

Consider waiting another few weeks or months. There is an immediate need now, but after the national headlines fade, money will still be needed, so consider donating a few months later.

Understand restricted vs. unrestricted donations and where you want your money to go

“Restricted” donations can only be used for a specific purpose, while “unrestricted” donations can be used for anything, including Harvey and future disasters. Decide where you’d like your money to go and make sure the charity meets your standards.

Report scams

If you suspect a scam, you can report it to the BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker or the Texas Attorney General’s hotline 1-800-621-0508 or by emailing consumeremergency@nag.texas.gov.

KHOU has put together a list of reputable charities with a local presence that are taking donations.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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