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Tips For Safe Charitable Giving In Response To Disasters


When disaster strikes, the human needs are of a critical, urgent nature – What’s the best way you can help? 

The Charities Review Council offers the following tips on smart giving during disasters and how to exercise caution when responding to disaster-relief appeals:

  • Types of support: The best assistance is a financial donation to a relief organization already operating in the affected area.  Do not send goods to an organization unless specifically requested.
  • When researching where to send a gift, consider the following:
    • Is the organization legitimate? If an organization is calling you, be wary. Established disaster-relief organizations are often too busy to implement a direct phone campaign during times of disaster.  Don’t be afraid to say “no” over the phone and then contact the organization directly yourself. 
    • Are you confident the organization has the infrastructure and capacity to put your donation to good use?
    • Check out organizations at the Charities Review Council online Charity Search
  • Texting-to-Give:  Before picking up your phone to donate, here’s what you need to know.
    • Text-to-give is a convenient and quick way to donate to a charity. Donors text a keyword to a short code and a pre-determined charge is added to your phone bill. A user can donate multiple times for each billing period.
    • Note that since the donation is collected through the cell phone billing cycle it can take up to 90 days before the intended charity receives the donation.
    • Make sure you give to an organization that you trust. Visit our online Charity Search to access charity reviews easily and quickly.
  • How would you like your donation to be spent? Would you like your gift to focus on immediate needs such as feeding the hungry or providing medical assistance, or meeting long term needs like establishing infrastructure?
  • Don’t be swayed by emotional or high-pressure solicitations with little or no substance.  Don’t make a donation to an unknown charity over the telephone or via an e-mail request, especially if it pressures you to give immediately, or refuses to send information unless you make a pledge.  Verify organizations by visiting our online Charity Search.
  • How do you protect yourself from fraud? Always pay by check or credit card, NEVER with cash. Cash can be lost or stolen.  Don’t provide your credit card number unless you know the charity and you initiate the contact. Choosing to give through is a safe alternative.
  • Is the organization accountable to its donors? Don’t hesitate to ask for written information about programming and financial activity.  Research that information on the organization’s website, visit our online Charity Search or call (800) 733-GIVE.
  • Find out whether your contribution is tax-deductible. Ask the organization if it is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Gifts to 501(c)3  organizations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Obtain receipts if you plan to claim a tax deduction.   
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Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan, the deadly typhoon that hit the Philippines last Friday, was one of the strongest ever recorded. Click to find out how you can help.

Boston Marathon Victims

How to help those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.

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