The magnitude 7 earthquake that struck Haiti yesterday has left much of the country in need of relief. Consumers will obviously be looking for ways to help and organizations they can send money to in order to help the victims in Haiti. To make the best decision possible, consider these 11 tips so you can be sure your generosity will be received by a trustworthy source and not a scammer.
1) Before making a contribution, visit www.bbb.org/charity to view detailed reports on many of the relief organizations providing assistance.
2) Think twice about donating to any charity that is inexperienced in carrying out relief efforts, but is suddenly soliciting for aid to Haiti. Although well intentioned, such organizations may not have the ability to quickly deliver aid to those in need.
3) Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances and programs.
4) Do not hesitate to ask for written information that describes the charity’s program(s) and finances such as the charity’s latest annual report and financial statements.
5) Find out what the charity intends to do with any excess contributions remaining after they have fully funded the disaster relief activities mentioned in solicitations.
6) Do not give cash. Checks or money orders should be made out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.
7) Keep an eye out for fake charities that imitate the name and style of well-known organizations in order to confuse people and potentially steal personal information such as credit card numbers.
8) Don’t give in to excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations. Be wary of any request to send a “runner” to pick up your contribution.
9) Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing what the charity will do to address the needs of victims and their families.
10) Do not give your credit card number or other personal information to a telephone solicitor or in response to an e-mail solicitation.
11) To help ensure your contribution is tax deductible, donations should be made to charitable organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Go to IRS Publication 78 on www.irs.gov for a current list of all organizations eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable gifts.