Disaster Reliefs: Communicate to Your Supporters About Potential Scams
On Friday, Aug. 25, Hurricane Harvey viciously stormed through Texas between Corpus Christi and Houston and made its way back out on Monday, Aug. 28. The Category 4 hurricane devastated all of us, as the country watched Harvey pummel through southeast Texas.
The storm brought on over 30 inches of rain, causing massive floods, and is estimated to affect over 450,000 people who will be seeking federal aid. Additionally, there have been five deaths and more then a dozen injuries due to the storm, as reported by The New York Times.
The onset of sudden disasters, such as Harvey, always results in an outpour of support from people all over the world—people who want to know where they can donate, how they can volunteer and what they can send to help the individuals and families who have been affected recover from such tragedy. While there are so many people in the world who want to do good, these disasters and tragedies open up a door of opportunity for those who start “fundraisers” or “relief funds” to scam the willing to donate for their own profit.
If disaster strikes and you find your nonprofit is connected to the cause and is raising funds for the relief, it’s important to share information to your supporters about the risks of donating.
Forbes published an article on things to consider before donating, which we believe is information that nonprofits should communicate to their supporters:
“Be smart. Be wary of personal solicitations on your doorstep or over the phone. Make sure that gifts made by checks or credit card gifts are secure. And don’t send money by text or using apps like Venmo without first verifying the organization and the contact information.”
“Do your homework. Check out the credentials of a potential donee/charitable organization before you donate. Charity Navigator is useful for gathering information about existing charities and has a Hurricane Harvey specific section.”
“Use caution when donating to individuals. For tax purposes, you can only deduct contributions to qualified tax-exempt charitable organizations. Donations to individuals are never deductible for tax purposes even if the individuals are really deserving. But there’s another, non-tax reason to use caution: money solicited for individuals could be part of a scam and even if it’s not, the money might not be spent as advertised. Keep in mind that once you hand over the cash, you have no control over how it might be used.”
Remember to remind your supporters of the potential dangers of donation scams, especially in light of this evolving digital era.
Editor's note: This article was published in the September 2017 issue of NonProfit PRO.