Intense coverage of the horrific shooting Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has many Americans wondering what they can do to help the families of victims and the community recover from the tragedy.
The Better Business Bureau is alerting the public to the potential for charity scams that prey on people moved by the tragedy. We see these scams in the wake of many high-profile news events - storms, earthquakes or acts of criminals or terrorists.
The BBB's Charity Information Service has tips for donors to use in evaluating any charity as well as Charity Reviews that evaluate specific organizations. Nationwide, the BBB has reviews of more than 14,000 charities online.
The first thing donors can look for is the BBB Accredited Charity seal or a charity's website or solicitation materials. If the seal is there - and valid - donors can be assured that the charity complies with the BBB's 20 Standards of Charity Accountability. If a group lacks a seal, donors can access Charity Reviews on our website.
The BBB's five tips to consider when making a donation are:
- If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don't hesitate to ask the charity for written information about its programs and finances.
- Don't succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used.
- When considering support for a cause-related marketing campaign, find the answers to these questions: What portion of the purchase price will benefit the charity? What is the duration of the campaign? What is the maximum or minimum total contribution? If the information is not on the item, check the organization’s website.
- Before donating used items make sure they are in good shape to reuse. Donating junk puts an undue burden on the charity and does more harm than good. You may want to consider selling the item and donating the proceeds to a charity.
A BBB video on charity donations is available online.