This season has presented itself with lots of opportunities to give, perhaps none so great as in our home state of Texas. Hurricane Harvey has left many Texas residents in great need for many months to come. While our Texas spirit lends intself to generosity, make sure you are smart when making financial contributions to "help". There are lots of scams that pop up during these times of crisis. These tips should help you make a smart decision in your generosity.
Give to charities you've heard of.
Many charities claim to help the victims of a disaster or catastrophe. And most do. However, there are those that "show up" during times of need and are less than honest with their intentions. Our advice: give to charities that you are familiar with. Your local church is a great place to start. Other groups like the American Red Cross and United Way are proven. The state of Texas has a disaster relief fund as well.
If you do feel compelled to give to an organization that you're not completely familiar with, we recommend tip #2:
Look charities up.
Review information about the charity before you give. The following websites contain helpful information to evaluate charities:
- American Institute of Philanthropy - charitywatch.org
- Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance - bbb.org
- Charity Navigator - charitynavigator.org
- GuideStar - guidestar.org
Be cautious with telephone solicitations.
There are plenty of opportunities to donate your time, money and belongings in your community. We recommend not giving over the phone to any organization that you have no experience with.
Ask how your donation will be used.
It is completely OK for you to ask how your donation will be used. Also, ask what the pass-thru rate of the charity is. If only 30 cents of every dollar you donate is actually used for disaster relief, you might consider another charity that actually gives more of your money to the cause.
Avoid unsolicited spam emails.
NEVER NEVER NEVER click on an embedded link or respond to any email asking for donations through an unsolicited email. EVER. If it looks suspicious, it probably is.
Be careful about personal information.
A charity should need nothing more than your name, address, email address, and credit card number. NEVER give your social security number or other personal information when giving a donation.