Giving During Disasters

Charities Review Council offers the following tips on smart giving during disasters and how to exercise caution when responding to disaster-relief appeals.


On June 12, 2016, gunman Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people, injuring 53 others, inside Pulse- a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Authorities are saying this is the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11.

Sadly, when disaster strikes, so do the scammers. 

Support the Orlando victims and their families, but also protect yourself, by using the smart giving tips below. 


When researching where to send a gift, consider the following:


1. Is the organization legitimate? 
If an organization is calling you, be wary. Established disaster-relief organizations are often too busy to implement a direct phone campaign during times of disaster.  Don’t be afraid to say “no” over the phone and then contact the organization directly yourself.

2. Texting-to-Give
Before picking up your phone to donate, here’s what you need to know.Text-to-give is a convenient and quick way to donate to a charity. Donors text a keyword to a short code and a pre-determined charge is added to your phone bill. A user can donate multiple times for each billing period. Note that since the donation is collected through the cell phone billing cycle it can take up to 90 days before the intended charity receives the donation.  Make sure you give to an organization that you trust.

3. Don’t be swayed by emotional or high-pressure solicitations with little or no substance.
Don’t make a donation to an unknown charity over the telephone or via an e-mail request, especially if it pressures you to give immediately, or refuses to send information unless you make a pledge. Verify organizations before you give by calling Charities Review Council’s Nonprofit Services Team at 651-224-7030.

4. How do you protect yourself from fraud? 
Always pay by check or credit card, NEVER with cash. Cash can be lost or stolen.  Don’t provide your credit card number unless you know the charity and you initiate the contact.

5. Is the organization accountable to its donors? 
Don’t hesitate to ask for written information about programming and financial activity.  Research that information on the organization’s website, or call us at 651-224-7030.

6. Find out whether your contribution is tax-deductible. 
Ask the organization if it is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Gifts to 501(c)3  organizations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Obtain receipts if you plan to claim a tax deduction.


This information was originally published on Charities Review Council’s website on July 21, 2015. However, the content and tips provided are still applicable now. Questions? Contact Charities Review Council’s Nonprofit Services Team at 651-224-7030.

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Our mission is building donor and nonprofit relationships for strong, vibrant and just communities. We envision healthy communities for all, benefiting from effective and trustworthy nonprofits that are supported by a well-informed public’s generosity.

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