Want to help but worried about scams? The Better Business Bureau has issued cautions for making donations.
In the wake of the largest mass shooting in the nation’s history, the watchdog arm of the Better Business Bureau, as well as the branch serving Central Florida, have issued cautions for those who want to make donations.
In a news statement released Monday, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance listed potential red flags for fundraisers purporting to help Orlando victims and their families.
Among the advice issued by the BBB:
• Take the time to check out the charity to avoid wasting your generosity on a questionable or poorly managed effort. Be proactive and find trusted charities providing assistance. CharityNavigator.org can be a helpful first stop. You can also check to see if the charity is registered with a state government agency. If the charity is not registered, that may be a significant red flag.
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• Find out whether the organization raising funds has permission from the families to use either the names of the victims or their photographs.
• Be mindful that fundraising efforts organized by victims’ families may not be set up as charities, but check to make sure that any money collected is received and administered by a third party such as a bank, CPA or lawyer.
• Beware of vague appeals that don’t identify how the money would be used.
• Be cautious with newly created organizations. Established charities will more likely have the experience to quickly address the circumstances and have a track record that can be evaluated. A newly formed organization may be well meaning but not well managed.
• Tragedies involving firearms may generate requests from a variety of advocacy organizations that address gun use. Not all groups that solicit donations are tax-exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code. Keep this in mind if you would like to deduct your donation from your federal income taxes.
• Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a look-alike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on something that downloads harmful malware onto your computer. Don’t assume that charity recommendations on blogs, Facebook or other social media have already been vetted.
• Look for agencies that offer an audited accounting of how donations are spent.
Money magazine on Monday published a list of organizations accepting donations and said Equality Florida Action Inc. has pledged to use 100 percent of the donated money for victims and their families.
According to the magazine, Equality Florida received a gold-star rating by the charity-vetting organization GuideStar.