NATION — Hurricane Florence battered the east coast.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has stated the rainfall from this event has produced “major to record river flooding” with totals approaching 20 to 30 inches.
The NWS notes the threat of flooding extends across the Carolinas and into the Appalachians this week.
Across the county, donations to aid victims of the hurricane have started to pour in.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), those wishing to donate items or funds should do their homework on the organization receiving funds before donating.
“This is not amateur hour,” notes Art Taylor, president and CEO of BBB Wise Giving Alliance.
“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,” Taylor said. “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.”
In the wake of the storm, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance has provided ways for consumers to donate with confidence that their funds will not be used for fraudulent purposes.
The first thing a potential donor should do it verify the trustworthiness of soliciting relief organizations. This can be accomplished by visiting Give.org, where “...access free reports that specify if the charity meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.”
Areas that are taken into consideration include governance and oversight and how effectively donations are used.
Seeing if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas is also important.
“Unless the charity already has skilled operations in the affected areas, it may be difficult to provide assistance quickly and effectively,” the BBB states.
Whether the charity is provided direct aid or is raising funds for other groups should also be consider.
Some organizations raise funds to pass along to another aid giving group.
Those wishing to donate may want to consider giving funds directly to the organization in need.
“Appeals for disaster-related donations should clearly state how contributions will be used,” the organization states.
Donors should be cautious about making donations of clothing, food, or other in-kind donations.
“...while well-intentioned, may not be the quickest way to help those in need – unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to hand out such aid properly,” the BBB notes.
Donated goods may cost extra for a charity to distribute, and may not meet the most urgent needs.
The BBB urges donors to understand crowdfunding sites.
While organizations can be vetted for authenticity, “...it is difficult to vet individuals.”
If a donation is made via crowdfunding, “...it is safest to give to people you personally know who have posted requests for assistance.”
For additional information on how to donate, visit www.give.org.
Consumers can report suspected scams to the BBB at www.BBB.org/ScamTracker or to the Pennsylvania Attorney General.