Donating with Confidence


Sunbury News Staff Reports



BBB Wants Community to Donate with Confidence When Supporting Fallen Westerville Police Officers

Columbus, OH – February 11, 2018 – Whenever tragedy strikes, whether it’s close to home or across the globe, people want to help in any way possible, and that often means contributing to fundraisers to help families of the victims. Sadly, scammers often take advantage of moments of vulnerability to deceive donors. In addition, there are often campaigns set up by well-meaning individuals who may or may not be directly connected to the tragedy.

After the tragic loss of two Westerville police officers, BBB wants to provide tips for those considering making a contribution to help ensure that donations reach the family members for which they are intended.

A crowdsourcing page has been set up for the fallen officers by the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #9. CME Federal Credit Union in Westerville will also be accepting donations for the families.

Westerville Police Department has already announced that some fake crowdfunding websites have been set up, and unfortunately, BBB sees plenty of crowdfunding appeals of a dubious nature in the days that follow a tragedy.

BBB and BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips to help avoid those seeking to take advantage of the generosity of others:

  • Crowdfunding: Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals who decide to post for assistance after a tragedy, and it is often difficult for donors to verify the trustworthiness of crowdfunding requests for support.
  • Online Caution: Never click on links on unfamiliar websites or in text messages or email. These may take you to a look-alike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information, or may download harmful malware onto your computer. Don’t assume that charity recommendations on social media have already been vetted.
  • How Will Donations Be Used? Watch out for vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds. For example, how will the donations help victims’ families? Also, unless told otherwise, donors will assume that funds collected quickly in the wake of a tragedy will be spent just as quickly. See if the appeal identifies when the collected funds will be used.
  • What if a Family Sets Up Its Own Assistance Fund? Some families may decide to set up their own assistance funds. Be mindful that such funds may not be set up as charities. Also, if collected monies are received and administered by a third party such as a bank, CPA, or lawyer this will help provide oversight and ensure the collected funds are used appropriately (paying for funeral costs, counseling, and other tragedy-related needs).
  • Tax Deductibility: Not all organizations collecting funds to assist after a tragedy are tax exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donors may still choose to support these entities, but these donations may not qualify as a deduction for federal income tax purposes. In addition, contributions that are donor-restricted to help a specific individual or family are not deductible as charitable donations, even if the recipient organization is a charity.

For more information, follow your BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org, and to and information on charities in your area, visit give.org.

ABOUT BBB

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org

In Response to Florida Tragedy, BBB Encourages Communities to Give Wisely

Columbus (February 16, 2018) – After a terrible and very public tragedy such as a mass shooting, many want to help in any way possible, and that often means contributing to fundraisers to help the survivors and the families of the victims. Sadly, scammers often take advantage of these moments of vulnerability to deceive donors. In addition, there are often campaigns set up by well-meaning individuals who may or may not be directly connected to the tragedy.

BBB Serving Central Ohio and BBB Wise Giving Alliance urges donors to give thoughtfully and avoid those seeking to take advantage of the generosity of others:

1. Thoughtful Giving: Take the time to check out the charity to avoid donating to a questionable or poorly managed effort. The first request for a donation may not be the best choice. Be proactive and find trusted charities that are providing assistance. Visit Give.org to verify if a charity meets the BBB Standards for Charitable Accountability.

2. Crowdfunding: Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals who decide to post for assistance after a tragedy or a disaster, and it is often difficult for donors to verify the trustworthiness of crowdfunding requests for support.

3. Respect for Victims and Their Families: Organizations raising funds should get permission from the families to use either the names of the victims and/or any photographs of them. Some charities raising funds for the victims of previous shootings did not do this and were the subject of criticism from victims’ families.

4. State Government Registration: About 40 of the 50 states require charities to register with a state government agency (usually a division of the State Attorney General’s office) before they solicit for charitable gifts. If the charity is not registered, that may be a significant red flag.

5. How Will Donations Be Used?: Watch out for vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds. For example, how will the donations help victims’ families? Also, unless told otherwise, donors will assume that funds collected quickly in the wake of a tragedy will be spent just as quickly. See if the appeal identifies when the collected funds will be used

6. What if a Family Sets Up Its Own Assistance Fund? Some families may decide to set up their own assistance funds. Be mindful that such funds may not be set up as charities. Also, if collected monies are received and administered by a third party such as a bank, CPA, or lawyer this will help provide oversight and ensure the collected funds are used appropriately (paying for funeral costs, counseling, and other tragedy-related needs).

7. Advocacy Organizations: Tragedies that involve violent acts with firearms can also generate requests from a variety of advocacy organizations that address gun use. Donors can support these efforts as well, but note that some of these advocacy groups are not tax exempt as charities. Also, watch out for newly-created advocacy groups that will be difficult to check out.

8. Online Caution: Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in text messages or email. These may take you to a look-alike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information, or may download harmful malware onto your computer. Don’t assume that charity recommendations on social media have already been vetted.

9. Financial Transparency: After funds are raised for a tragedy, it is even more important for organizations to provide an accounting of how funds were spent. Transparent organizations will post this information on their websites so that anyone can find out without having to wait until the audited financial statements are available sometime in the future.

10. Newly-Created v. Established Organizations: This is a personal giving choice, but an established charity 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 will be difficult to check out and may not be well managed.

11. Tax Deductibility: Not all organizations collecting funds to assist after a tragedy are tax exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donors can support these other entities, but keep this in mind if they want to take a deduction for federal income tax purposes. In addition, contributions that are donor-restricted to help a specific individual or family are not deductible as charitable donations, even if the recipient organization is a charity.

ABOUT BBB WISE GIVING ALLIANCE

BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a standards-based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of nationally-soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, effectiveness reporting, finances, fund raising, appeal accuracy, and other issues. Learn more about the 20 BBB Charity Standards at give.org.

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Sunbury News Staff Reports