With the devastation we are all seeing from Hurricane Harvey in Texas, thousands there will need millions and millions of dollars in services. And millions of Americans will want to step up. But experts warn that first you need to make sure of just who are donating to and how that organization will use your donated dollars.
“If someone makes a financial donation and they want to help the folks that have been affected by Hurricane Harvey, we are about process those donations into true support,” says Esther Shepperd from the American Red’s Cross Savannah Chapter.
The Red Cross and other established organizations like the Salvation Army have been dealing with disasters for decades. The Federal Trade Commission warns that some charities may pop up in the next few weeks and those groups won’t be reputable at all.
“You want to vet any organization and see how long they’ve been around, if they’ve only been around for a short period of time or you can’t find much information abut them, you really need to double think what you’re doing,” says Sheppherd.
The Federal Trade Commission warns that after disasters like this, crooks come out sometimes soliciting money and using names similar to well known reputable organizations. So it says pay attention if someone calls you on the phone for example.
“Sure, there’ll be scams and there are always going to be times where some people take advantage of the opportunity to leverage funds for personal gain,” says Shepperd. “People just need to be very cognizant of how they’re donating their money.”
The group Charity Navigator has a list of legitimate charities along with advice on how you can best help victims in Texas.