My recent visit to the Gulf gave me a renewed appreciation for the beauty of that part of the country. It’s also heartbreaking to see what the oil spill is, or will be doing to the environment and economy there. The disaster has prompted many Americans to ask how they can help out. Obviously not all of us can physically go there and volunteer. So maybe you’re ready to open your wallet or write a check. Before you do, take some time to research a charity. It could save you time and money in the long run.
One thing you can always count on following any disaster… scams. And this disaster is no different. The Federal Trade Commission has put out a consumer alert. The FTC says “it’s likely that scammers will use e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, flyers, mailings and telephone calls to make contact and solicit money.”
The Better Business Bureau reminds you to understand where your money will be going, and how it will be spent. The BBB’s Bennett Weiner says, “I think one should do homework in every situation when you’re considering to give to a charity. Even if you’re familiar with the name, you may not be familiar with what that organization is doing about the issue.” He adds, “Watch out for spammed emails and other links that you may get in messages that may claim to be linking to a site that you may well know, but may in fact be a ruse to access personal information about you.”
So how do you know where to give? The BBB offers a list of 13 national agencies working in the Gulf that meet the BBB Wise Giving Alliance’s Standards for Charity Accountability. Here they are:
- American Bird Conservancy
- Defenders of Wildlife
- Ducks Unlimited
- Environmental Defense Fund
- Friends of the Earth
- Greenpeace Fund
- International Fund for Animal Welfare
- National Audubon Society
- National Wildlife Federation
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Nature Conservancy
For more information on how to avoid scams, and tips for donors and volunteers go here.