AS the public’s attention and hearts are focused on the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, Better Business Bureau serving Mainland British Columbia advises donors to take steps to avoid being taken by questionable solicitors or wasting their money on poorly managed relief efforts. The powerful typhoon that hit the Philippines over the weekend has had more than 10,000 casualties, according to their authorities.
“Often our first instinct is to donate money to help victims in these tragedies, but Canadians really need to take a step back and really know where and how their money and donations will be used,” notes Danielle Primrose, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Mainland BC.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following five tips to help Canadians decide where to direct donations:
Mistake # 1: Making a donation decision based solely on charity’s name.
Charities ranging from well-known emergency relief organizations to organizations experienced in reconstruction will likely be soliciting for various relief assistance efforts. Make sure the appeal specifies how the charity will help. If it does not, visit the charity’s website. Also, watch out for charity names that include the name of the disaster – it could be a start-up group with little experience or a questionable effort seeking to gain confidence through its title.
Mistake # 2: Collect clothing and goods without verifying that items can be used.
Unless you have verified that a charity is in need of specific items and has a distribution plan in place, collecting clothing, food and other goods may end up being a wasted effort. Relief organizations often prefer to purchase goods near the location of the disaster to help speed delivery and avoid expensive long distance freight costs. Also, sending non-essential items may actually slow down the charity’s ability to address urgent needs.
Mistake # 3: Sending donations to inexperienced relief efforts.
Good intentions alone are not enough to carry out relief activities effectively. If the charity has not previously been involved in disaster relief, or does not have experience in assisting the overseas nation(s) that have been impacted, this likely will hamper their ability to work well in the affected areas.
Mistake # 4: Responding to online and social media appeals without checking.
Don’t let your guard down just because the appeal is online. Don’t assume that since a third-party blog, website or friend recommended a relief charity that it has been thoroughly vetted. Check out the charity’s website on your own.
Mistake #5: Donating without doing your homework.
Find out if a charity meets recognized accountability standards. If you want assurance that the charity is transparent, accountable, and well managed, see if it meets the BBB Wise Giving Alliance’s 20 “Standards for Charity Accountability” by visiting give.org. The public can go to the Canadian Revenue Agency (www.cra.gc.ca/donors) to research charities and relief organizations to verify their accountability.
For more tips you can trust, visit www.mbc.bbb.org and for the latest, follow BBB on Facebook and Twitter.