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MILWAUKEE — Hurricane Isaac made its second landfall early Wednesday morning, continuing to thrash Louisiana with harsh winds, rain and flooding. While Isaac continues its destructive path, charities may soon begin soliciting for donations to support the relief efforts. With many options available for donors to consider, Better Business Bureau offer tips for donors looking to assist in the relief efforts.
BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability were developed to assist donors in making sound giving decisions and to foster public confidence in charitable organizations. The standards seek to encourage fair and honest solicitation practices, to promote ethical conduct by charitable organizations and to advance support of philanthropy.
Before giving your donation, BBB recommends the following:
• Research the organization. Check BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance at www.give.org to get reports on how national charities measure up to BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Confirm the organization is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) and make sure you’re satisfied with the programs and how the money is distributed. According to BBB’s Standards for Charity
– At least 65 percent of total expenses should be spent on program activities
– No more than 35 percent of related contributions can be spent on fundraising
– For local charities, ask for an annual report or a 990 IRS form to see a breakdown of where the money is allocated.
• Be wary of imitations. Don’t be fooled by names that look impressive or that closely resemble the name of a well-known organization.
• Avoid giving personal information over the phone. Since nonprofits are not required to use the “Do Not Call” list, you could receive a phone call asking for a donation. Avoid giving your personal information over the phone.
• Be cautious of online or text message solicitations. Online giving can be very convenient, but avoid donating in response to unexpected text messages or emails that claim to link to a relief organization. Scam organizations with official looking names can be created overnight. If you want to give to a charity involved in the relief efforts, go directly to that charity’s website.
Avoid giving to charities that:
• Use high pressure solicitations. A legitimate charity will be glad to give you the time needed to fully research its program.
• Offer prizes. Most honest charities do not try to entice you to give by telling you that you have won a prize.
• Steer you away from mailing a donation. Dishonest individuals try and avoid doing anything through the U.S. mail to avoid federal prosecution under postal statutes.
For more information or further inquiries, please contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.wisconsin.bbb.org or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin). Or, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
For 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2011, consumers turned to BBB more than 100 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at www.bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 115 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.