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The Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs warns residents to check out charities collecting funds for Hurricane Harvey victims before they give or share appeals.
“It’s impossible not to be moved by photos and videos of the storm damage, but if you want to help victims, make sure before you donate that your dollars will be used responsibly,” said Sheryl Harris, Director of Cuyahoga County’s Department of Consumer Affairs, “In the past, scammers have created fake charities that siphon funds away from real victims.”
Often in the wake of disasters, organizations may tie appeals for donations to a newsworthy event, although they aren’t known for disaster relief work. Because charity rating organizations use slightly different data to evaluate, it is a good idea to check out a charity’s rating with several sites before you give.
Reputable charity ratings sites include:
Give.org - The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance shares tips on donating to disaster relief charities and lists charities doing Hurricane Harvey relief work that meet BBB standards.
Guidestar.orgThis online organization rates charities and shares their 990s and information about how they use donated funds.
CharityWatch.org This watchdog has a list of charities it has rated as highly effective that are working on Hurricane Harvey relief.
Drives for goods – food, soap, etc. – to help disaster victims are generally not recommended because unsolicited items can cause charities logistical problems. Unless charities specifically ask for goods, cash donations are usually preferred.
Additionally, the Ohio Attorney General, a Cuyahoga County Scam Squad partner, cautions that calls for donations on social media aren’t necessarily vetted; please do your part to check out charities before you share these appeals.