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This weekend, typhoon Haiyan killed an estimated 10,000 people, wiped out an entire town, and displaced more than half a million people, according to the Chicago Tribune. Thousands are missing, and many survivors don’t have access to food, water, or medicine.
Naturally, Americans want to help — we’re among the top five most charitable countries in the world, according to the Charities Aid Foundation. But don’t forget scammers are drawn to disaster like moths to a flame. (May they all burn.) Even people with good intentions may be inexperienced at providing disaster aid.
Here’s some advice from the Better Business Bureau to make sure your money goes where it will do serious good:
- Beware third-party recommendations. “Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers, because they may not have fully researched the listed relief organizations,” the BBB says. Rely on respected sources or, if you’re inclined, learn how to check out a charity yourself.
- Beware 100-percent claims. Charities have administrative and fundraising costs, and while some are better than others at keeping overhead to a minimum, don’t believe that anybody can put 100 percent of donations toward assistance.
- Read the website. Don’t pick a charity based solely on its name and reputation. Look into whether it already has operations in the area, and what it can actually do to help.
- Check if your goods are needed. Well-intentioned local groups often hold food or clothing drives for charities, but it can be expensive to ship that stuff where it’s needed and it may be easier for charities to acquire it locally. Verify a charity’s needs and ask about its distribution plans first.
For more advice on checking out a charity, watch our video below: