BBB Cautions On Fundraising To Assist Cleveland Kidnap Victims
BBB Cautions on
Fundraising to Assist Cleveland Kidnap Victims
rescue last week of three women and a child from a Cleveland home where they
were held captive for a decade has gained worldwide attention. Generous donors
wishing to help the victims are being cautioned by Better Business Bureau to
confirm the legitimacy of all charitable fundraising and crowd funding
tragedy of this nature that is the focus of high profile media attention
inspires people to give," says David Weiss, president and CEO of BBB of
Greater Cleveland, "but, unfortunately, also catches the attention of
scammers who try to take advantage of well-meaning generosity."
Wise Giving Alliance has seen charity scams following all recent natural
disasters and manmade tragedies, and encourages donors to balance their
generosity with thoughtfulness and research. "Try to avoid making emotional
giving decisions," says H. Art Taylor, President and CEO of the BBB Wise
Giving Alliance, "The first request for a donation may not be the best
choice. Check with the BBB to help avoid questionable fundraising
also reminds consumers that donations made through crowd funding websites are
usually considered gifts to the recipients and are not tax deductible unless the
group receiving the funds is a 501(c)(3) organization as designated by the
Internal Revenue Service.
urges consumers to make wise choices with their donations:
thoughtfully. Take the time to check out the charity to avoid wasting
your generosity by 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.
the 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 Colorado movie theater
and Newtown school victims did not do this and were the subject of criticism
from victims' families.
confirmation. 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. For example, Ohio requires
charities to register with the Office of the Attorney
General before they solicit for charitable gifts.
should be shared. 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 and not have to wait until the audited financial statements
are available sometime in the future.
sale disclosures. If any items are being sold (such as t-shirts, etc.)
in the context that their sales will benefit the victims, look for a disclosure
that states the actual or anticipated amount of the purchase that will benefit
the a specified charity and, if applicable, any minimums or maximums being
raised (e.g. up to $100,000) as well as campaign term limits (e.g. during the
month of May).
Online Giving Cautions. Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar
websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where
you will be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on
something that downloads harmful malware into your computer. Don't assume that
charity recommendations on Facebook, blogs or other social media have already
been vetted. Also, websites that enable individuals to raise funds (known as
crowd funding sites) can be established very quickly but may not have oversight
procedures in place to ensure that funds will be used as promised (for example,
establishing a CPA, bank or other respected third party to receive collected
donations and help distribute funds to victims).
BBB Charity Reports. Find out if the subject charity meets the 20 BBB
Standards for Charity Accountability. Visit give.org for reports
on nationally soliciting charities and bbb.org for
information on regionally soliciting organizations.
Cleveland Foundation has set up the Cleveland Courage
Fund for the victims. The organization is a community foundation that
has been supporting various Cleveland area projects since 1914.
Wise Giving Alliance is asking anyone who receives a suspicious charitable
solicitation to report it to BBB Report a
BBB WISE GIVING ALLIANCE: BBB Wise Giving Alliance produces reports on
over 1,200 nationally soliciting charitable organizations, and local BBBs report
on another 10,000 local and regional charities. BBB Wise Giving Alliance does
not rank charities but rather seeks to assist donors in making informed
judgments by providing objective evaluations of national charities based on 20
standards that address charity governance, finances, fund raising, appeal
accuracy, and other issues. The outcomes of the evaluations are available online
at give.org. BBB Wise
Giving Alliance is an affiliate of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Friday, March 7 2014 12:46 AM EST2014-03-07 05:46:07 GMT
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