As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, many people are looking to help out in any way possible. For a lot of us, that involves wanting to donate money or other items to be sent to Ukraine, through a charity or crowdfunding platform.
Better Business Bureau® and BBB® Wise Giving Alliance want to remind you to watch out for crowdfunding and other charity scams.
Unfortunately, scammers love to use times of tragedy and unrest to take advantage of kind-hearted people. We know that everyone wants to help as much and as quickly as they can, but it is so important to take a pause and do your research, so that you do not fall victim to a scam.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when looking for ways to give to Ukraine:
•Can the charity get to the impacted area? Not all relief organizations will be positioned to provide relief quickly. See if the charity already has a presence in Ukraine.
•Should you send clothing and food? Local drives to collect clothing and food to send overseas may not be practical as the logistics and timing to deliver and disperse such items will be challenging. Relief organizations are better equipped to obtain what is needed, distribute it effectively and avoid duplication of effort.
•Does the relief charity meet BBB Charity Standards? You can verify a charity’s trustworthiness by viewing an evaluative report completed by BBB Wise Giving Alliance. For a list of charities that that are soliciting for relief assistance for Ukraine and that also meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, see Give.org’s tips for donating to Ukraine relief.
•Is the charity experienced in providing emergency relief? Experienced disaster relief charities are the best bet to help deliver aid as soon as possible. New entrants may have difficulty in following through even if they have the best of intentions.
•Are you considering crowdfunding appeals? If engaging in crowdfunding, it is safest to give to someone you personally know and trust. You should also review the platform’s policies regarding fees and distribution of collected funds. If the crowdfunding request is from a charity, check out the group by visiting Give.org. Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals or organizations that decide to post for relief assistance. Sites that take security measures will usually provide descriptions of these procedures.
•Does the appeal make exaggerated financial claims such as “100% will be spent on relief?” Charities have fundraising and administrative expenses. Any charity claiming otherwise is potentially misleading the donating public. Even a credit card donation will have a processing fee.
For more information on finding reputable charities or to report a scam, visit bbb.org.
—Melanie Duquesnel, President & CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula