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Smart Giving in Response to California Mud Slide

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As flood waters start to recede in California this holiday season, plans already are underway to help provide much-needed relief and support in the days and weeks ahead to those affected by the mud slides.   

When disaster strikes and needs are of a critical, urgent nature – what are the best and safest ways to help make the greatest difference?

The Charities Review Council offers the following tips on giving smart in times of a disaster and how to exercise caution when responding to disaster-relief appeals.  

  • Type of donation: The best and most resourceful assistance is often a financial donation to a relief organization already operating in the affected area.  Goods should NOT be sent unless specifically requested by an organization.
  • Check out the organization: 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.  Protect yourself by verifying the organizations at the Charities Review Council online with our Charity Search.

  • How would you like your donation to be spent: Would you like your gift to focus on short term needs such as providing meals, temporary shelter and clean up efforts or help with medical assistance, or longer term needs like rebuilding efforts?
     
  • Protect yourself from fraud: Always pay by check or credit card, NEVER with cash. Cash can be lost or stolen.  Do not provide your credit card number unless you know the charity and you initiate the contact.
     
  • Is the organization accountable to its donors? Don’t hesitate to ask for written information about programming and financial activity.  You can also research that information on the organization’s website or search for the nonprofit on the Charities Review Council website.
     
  • Ask about the tax status of the organization: If you want your donation to be tax-deductible, the organization must be a 501(c)3 charitable organization.  Please check with your tax advisor or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for more information regarding the tax deductibility of your donation.