Hurricane Florence is now a tropical storm. However, the storm is dumping record-setting rain on the Carolinas over the weekend. Over two feet of rain has pummeled North Carolina, and flooding is becoming a significant concern. Several media outlets are reporting at least 14 fatalities associated with the storm. With any natural disaster, there will be an outpouring of donations to displaced families and families of the victims lost to the storm. The Better Business Bureau is warning people to be careful of predators looking to exploit the disaster for their financial gain.
The BBB recommends donating to major disaster relief organizations. These organizations will be the most organized and equipped to serve the victims of the storm. Large disaster relief organizations will be able to provide emergency aid to individuals left stranded by the storms.
Additionally, they suggest skipping the crowdfunding sites looking for donations of any kind for victims. Art Taylor, President, and CEO of BBB Wise Giving Alliance stated:
“This is not amateur hour. Give.org has seen crowdfunding posts from individuals claiming to raise funds so they can deliver and distribute water, food, and flashlights to impacted areas. Even if sincere, such efforts may risk lives, complicate access by professional efforts and potentially divert donations that could be directed in more helpful ways.”
“With such a devastating hurricane bearing down on the southeast coast of the United States, emotions are running high. While we all want to help those in harm’s way as soon as we can, donors should watch out for newly created organizations that emerge that are either inexperienced in addressing disasters or may be seeking to deceive donors at a vulnerable time.”
The BBB also expects to see price gaugers and “storm chasers” to appear looking to make a quick buck off the storm. BBB suggests going to Give.org to find a list of verified organizations to donate to for the hurricane. They have created a list of numerous organizations that meet 20 guidelines for BBB Charitable Giving Accountability.
Furthermore, they created guidelines to help individuals determine what to donate and how to give the funds:
- Verify the trustworthiness of soliciting relief organizations by visiting Give.org to access free reports that specify if the charity meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.
- See if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas.
- Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or is raising money for other groups.
- Be cautious about gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations.
- Understand crowdfunding. While there are resources like Give.org to help vet charities, it is difficult to vet individuals. If you decide to contribute to an individual via crowdfunding, it is safest to give to people you know who have posted requests for assistance.
The storm is expected to last for several days. Relief efforts will be on-going for all individuals impacted by the storm. For now, make sure you are careful of where your money goes. With any natural disaster, there will always be predators looking to make a buck off of everyone else’s misfortune.
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