Experts: Use caution when donating to help Hurricane Dorian victims
With so many opportunities to donate toward helping Hurricane Dorian victims, experts are stressing a need to exercise caution to avoid getting ripped off.
Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois, said "scammers come out of the woodwork" knowing people want to help in the wake of a disaster. People should give to known charitable organizations, many of which have a Chicago-area presence.
Well-known organizations such as the American Red Cross are assisting hurricane victims in the United States and the Bahamas. The organization says Bahamas Red Cross volunteers have been providing supplies such as tarps, hygiene items and hand-cranked cellphone chargers.
Bernas said people should be leery of collection kettles for hurricane victims at local stores and crowdfunding websites. One resource for researching charitable organizations before donating is the BBB's Wise Giving Alliance's give.org website.
"Every time there is a natural disaster, it brings out the best in people and it brings out the worst," Bernas said Wednesday.
Watchdog group Charity Navigator has a list of what it calls highly rated organizations providing aid and relief for Hurricane Dorian victims. Found at charitynavigator.org, the list includes the Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, Team Rubicon, Matthew 25 Ministries and World Hope International.
In trying to decide how to donate during a crisis, Charity Navigator says money does the most good because it allows organizations working "on the ground" to quickly purchase supplies needed in an ever-changing environment.
Charity Navigator also says to donate only to an established organization with a proven track record of success. Donors should research whether an organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit registered with the Internal Revenue Service, according to Charity Navigator.
"Often times, crisis of large scale and coverage enable certain individuals to take advantage of your generosity and pocketing your donation for their own personal benefit," Charity Navigator says.