FBI and Charity Navigator tips how to best choose a charity for Haiti cause

The FBI and the online charity watchdog, Charity Navigator, have issued the following guidelines when deciding which charity for Hati to support:

•    Carefully review appeals before giving. Listen closely to the name of the group and beware of copycat names that sound like reputable charities.

•    Know the charity before you donate. Review the charity’s Web site and written material to assure the program is one you want to support. Check the organization’s financial filings to see how it spends its assets. Visithttp://www.charitynavigator.org/ to see how many cents on the dollar the charity uses for its programs. If it is less than 75 cents on every dollar going to the program then it is best to give elsewhere. Look for 4 stars on the Efficiency rating to be sure.

•    Avoid newly-formed groups and give to an established charity that has worked in Haiti. Several Web sites with “Haiti” in their names were registered immediately after the disaster and claim to be raising money, but have no records or financial information. Avoid such sites.

•    Make sure the charity is registered in the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts. Registration does not guarantee that a charity is effective, but it is an important indicator. A searchable database is available at http://ag.ca.gov/charities.php.

•    Do not donate through e-mail solicitations or click on attachments, even if they claim to contain pictures from Haiti. Clicking on an e-mail may lead you to a Web site that looks authentic, but is established by identity thieves seeking to obtain money or personal information.

•    Be leery of anyone who contacts you claiming to be a victim. Unless you personally know a person in Haiti, anyone alleging to be in this position is probably part of a scam.

•    Do not give large amounts of cash.

•    Write checks to the charitable organization, not a solicitor or any individual.

•    Do not be pressured into giving. Even in times of emergency, reputable organizations do not expect you to contribute immediately if you are unfamiliar with their services.

•    Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on details about how the charity will help disaster victims.

•    If you are contacted by a solicitor, ask what percentage of your donations will be used for charitable activities that help victims and how much will be used to pay for administrative and fund-raising costs. State law requires solicitors to provide such information if requested by donors. Be wary of fund-raisers who balk at answering.

•    Do not send supplies. It is not practical in this situation. Instead of sending your own clothing, have a garage sale and turn your used goods into cash that you donate to a charity.

FULL STORY HERE: Huffington PostAdditional article detailing FBI Warning

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