Dont become another wildfire victim
August 27, 2008 · Updated 8:50 PM
Destroying nearly 2,000 homes and businesses, and forcing the mandatory evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people, the recent California wildfires have captured the attention of people across the nation.
As with past tragedies and natural disasters, people in our communities are stepping up to help those affected by the wildfires and a common way of providing that assistance is donating to charities and relief efforts.
While there are many legitimate charities helping the victims, there are also some unscrupulous people who will be trying to take advantage of those trying to help people in need.
In the face of any disaster, Americans will immediately step forward with donations to aid the victims and their families, said Art Taylor, CEO of the Better Business Bureaus Wise Giving Alliance. Unfortunately, as we saw after Hurricane Katrina, scammers will try to take advantage of the generosity of the public; thats why its important to take you time and do your research before donating to a charity relief effort.
The Better Business Bureaus Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advice to make sure your donations go to worthy charities and relief efforts:
Before making a contribution, go to www.bbb.org/charity to obtain detailed evaluative reports on many of the relief organizations providing assistance.
Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances and programs.
Ask for written information that describes the charitys program(s) and finances such as the charitys latest annual report and financial statements.
Find out what the charity intends to do with any excess contributions remaining after they have fully funded the disaster relief activities mentioned in solicitations.
Do not give cash. Checks or money orders should be made out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.
Keep an eye out for fake charities that imitate the name and style of well-known organizations in order to confuse people and potentially steal personal information such as credit card numbers.
Dont give in to excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations. Be wary of any request to send a runner to pick up your contribution.
Think twice about donating to any charity that is inexperienced in carrying out relief efforts but is suddenly soliciting for aid for Southern California. Although well intentioned, such organizations may not have the ability to quickly deliver aid to those in need.
Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing what the charity will do to address the needs of victims and their families.
Do not give your credit card number or other personal information to a telephone solicitor or in response to an e-mail solicitation.
To help ensure your contribution is tax deductible, donations should be made to charitable organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Go to IRS Publication 78 on www.irs.gov for a current list of all organizations eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable gifts.
For more information on the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and to view more 1,000 BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on charities across the nation go to www.bbb.org/charity. To find information on local charities and organizations, visit the local BBB at www.bbb.org.
Dont let the scammers deter you from helping those Californians in need simply follow the tips listed above and your donation will go to a reputable charity capable of getting your donation to those who need it most.
To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board Kris Passey or Scott Frank e-mail email@example.com.