Want to help those impacted by the March 11 Japan earthquake and tsunami? Better Business Bureau has some advice.
"Helping others is very important, and many jump at the chance to donate for relief efforts," said Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. “Unfortunately, there are those who will try to take advantage of the public's generosity after a disaster; that’s why it’s so important to research before donating and make sure donations go to relief efforts.”
BBB offers the following advice to ensure donations go to trustworthy relief efforts:
· Research organizations. Before donating, visit www.bbb.org/charity.
· Ask questions. Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their location, operations, finances and programs. Feel free to ask for written information about the charity’s program(s) and finances such as the charity’s latest annual report and financial statements.
· Avoid giving cash or wiring money. Checks or money orders should be made out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.
· Beware of fake charities. These imitate the name and style of well-known organizations in an attempt to confuse donors.
· Don’t give in to excessive pressure. Be wary of any request to send a “runner” to pick up a contribution.
· Look for experience. Sometimes charities inexperienced in carrying out relief efforts solicit for aid in the wake of a disaster. Although well intentioned, they may not be able to quickly deliver aid to those in need.
· Use caution with solicitors. Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing how the charity will address the needs. Don’t give credit card numbers or other personal information to a telephone solicitor or in response to an e-mail solicitation.
· Ask if the 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 to find organizations eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable gifts.
For tips on donating via text message and other resources visit www.bbb.org.