Lindsey Struck: Hi! I'm Lindsey Struck, a Program Analyst at Charity Navigator. When disaster occurs, whether it's an Earthquake in Haiti, Typhoon in Philippines or acts of terrorism many American are generous and eager to give. Unfortunately disaster response has become a common outlet for scammer attempting to profit from these well intended efforts. So, how can you protect yourself from scams and give in more effective way to charity responding to disaster situations. Be aware of people who contact you online claiming to be a victim. Individuals effected by deserter are not going to have the time or resources immediately available to contact you. To leave unsolicited emails, particularly those with attachment claims to have of photos of the disaster or additional information. Scammers use these tactics to expose your electronic device through a virus or trick you in to revealing personal and financial information. Be cautious of social media campaigns. Social media is an effective platform for inspiring generosity; that can be fought with scams. Be sure not to give blindly through a social media call to action, instead seek out the charity's legitimate appeal and donate directly. Avoid charities created specially to deal with new crisis, even new well meaning organization mail out the infrastructure and knowledge necessary to effectively maximize your gift. Instead, this organization should either have experience dealing with type of disaster or working in the impacted region or both. These charities will have the practical knowledge and skill necessary to best respond to the needs of those affected. You might also consider designating your gift, this will ensure that your donation is use as you have intended. Some charities may divide your donation so that only a portion goes to support the current disaster response efforts or the remainder is used for the organization's general operating fund or saved for future crisis.
Many charities that offer an online giving portal have a check box feature so that you can tell the organization how you like your donation to be spent. Do not sense surprise, resist the urge to send item such as food, water, clothing and medical supplies. The reality is in crisis situations this is neither practical, nor efficient. Even if mail reaches the impacted region it's unlikely someone will be there to receive the goods, much less organize and distribute them to victims.
Furthermore, established charities will often partner with companies to acquire an efficient distribute large quantities of in kind donations. So, instead of sending supplies consider organizing a garage sale and turning your used goods into denotable profit. Finally, do not expect immediate results. It takes time for a charity to access the situation and mobilize the disaster response strategy. Nevertheless, donors should still hold charities accountable for delivering on what they promised.
Remember the best way to help the victim in time of disaster is not simply to be generous giver, but be an informed giver as well. 1