SAN ANTONIO, Texas — We have seen heartbreaking images coming out of Ukraine as refugees try to make it to safety. Many of us want to do what we can to help during this humanitarian crisis. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a warning about giving wisely so your donation has the most impact.
Americans are not close to the conflict, but still many of us want to support the Ukrainian people. Yet, fraudsters are taking advantage of our generosity.
Here are the steps the BBB suggests using when vetting a charity:
- Confirm the charity currently has a presence in the Ukraine. Not all organizations are positioned to provide aid quickly.
- Consider what you want to send. It may be difficult to get items like food or clothing directly to Ukrainians. Relief organizations are better equipped to obtain needed items and distribute them. Find out from the organization you support what is the best type of donation. It maybe money.
- Consider donating to an experienced charity. New charities may have good intentions but may not be equipped to deal with a disaster or emergency situation.
- Think twice before giving to a crowdfunding appeal.
- Verify a charity’s trustworthiness before you donate.
“Always review the platform’s policy because it’s always hard to verify every group that comes through a crowdfunding site,” said Jason Meza, the San Antonio BBB senior regional director. “It could take days or weeks before an appeal is investigated or even removed before a lot of funds are collected and go into the wrong hands.”
The BBB offers this list of legitimate charities working in the Ukraine:
Plus, the Red Cross and Salvation Army are also working to help refugees. You can also vet other charities at BBB's give.org.
Be wary of charities that state 100 percent of donations will be spent on relief efforts. All charities have fundraising and administrative expenses.
One tip to make sure money goes where you want it is to specify the donation go directly to relief efforts in the Ukraine. That can be written on a check or online donation form.
There are also questions about donating to the Ukrainian military. Since this would most likely be an international transaction, proceed with caution.
How an organization asks you to pay, whether it is a charity or a group claiming to support the military, could be a red flag. If you donate by a wire transfer, cash, gift cards or cryptocurrency know that money is gone forever. There is no way to recover it. Legitimate organizations will take donations by credit card, which offers protection from fraud.