The emotional toll of the mass shootings at the Uvalde, Texas elementary school may inspire many to make donations to help the impacted families.
The Better Business Bureau urges concerned donors to take appropriate steps to avoid questionable appeals that seek to take advantage of this generosity.
BBB Wise Giving Alliance tips for trusted giving:
Research the organization. Visit Give.org to verify if a charity meets the BBB Standards for Charitable Accountability. Take the time to find out how the organization plans to address either immediate or long-term needs. The first request for a donation may not be the best choice. Be proactive and find trusted charities.
How Will Donations Be Used? Watch out for vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds. For example, how will the donations help victims’ families? See if the appeal identifies when the collected funds will be used.
Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding has become so popular that it is not unusual for fundraising to start within hours after a tragedy has occurred. Please keep in mind that while some crowdfunding sites take precautions in carefully screening, vetting and managing postings after a tragedy, others might not. If unsure, review the posting procedures described on the crowdfunding site and also find out about transaction fees and other specifics.
Does the appeal respect victims and their families? Charitable organizations or crowdfunding postings raising funds should get permission from the families to use either the names of the victims and/or any photographs of them. Don’t assume there is an official connection if photos are displayed.
Advocacy Organizations. Tragedies that involve violent acts with firearms can also generate requests from a variety of advocacy organizations that address gun use. Donors can support these efforts as well but note that some of these advocacy groups are not tax exempt as charities. Also, watch out for newly created advocacy groups that will be difficult to check out.
Pay attention to public announcements. Be mindful of public announcements that identify assistance being provided to victim families to help avoid donating to duplicative efforts.
Online Caution: Never click on links to unfamiliar charity websites or in text messages or email. These may take you to a look-alike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information, or may download harmful malware onto your computer. Don’t assume that charity recommendations on social media have already been vetted.
Identify Celebrity Fundraising Plans. Before donating to a celebrity’s fundraising effort, look beyond the fame. See if they identify plans for intended use of funds or whether they are collaborating with a well-established charity.
Report any scams to www.bbb.org/scamtracker.