Better Business Bureau urges caution when donating to charity

By Jamel Major - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - According to the Better Business Bureau's Nancy Crawford, when disaster strikes, so do scammers.

"Scammers follow the headlines, so if there's been a natural disaster like the earthquake in Haiti or Hurricane Katrina, they're going to tweak their message to make it fit today's headlines," Crawford said.

That's why the Better Business Bureau is urging people to think twice and to be careful when donating to the Haitian relief effort.

"Ask the charity what they're going to do with the money," Crawford said. "How much of it is going to the patient or earthquake victim?  How is it going to get there?  And make sure you do your homework and check these charities out."

Crawford says the Wise Giving Alliance, the charitable arm of the BBB, is hard at work evaluating charities to make sure they are legitimate.

"Whether they have board meetings," she said. "Whether they produce an annual report and tell you what they do with their funds.  How much of their funds are used for their programs as opposed to fundraising or marketing."

In addition, Crawford said, people need to make sure the charity or organization seeking donations is properly registered with the state.

To investigate a charity on the Better Business Bureau's website, click here.

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