For many people, it’s a natural instinct to want to help financially after a tragedy or natural disaster. BBB advises that you watch out for online fundraising solicitations through crowdfunding websites with links on social media or in your email — a variety of opportunities to give to survivors, victims’ families and related causes. Most of them are well-meaning but, unfortunately, others are not.
Some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals who decide to post for assistance after a tragedy or a disaster, and it is often difficult for donors to verify the trustworthiness of crowdfunding requests for support. Be aware that people with good intentions but with no experience in managing charitable donations are on crowdfunding sites. Additionally, there are scammers seeking to take advantage of high public sympathy by setting up crowdfunding projects that may have no official connection to any charitable organization and may be using names and photos of victims without the families’ permission.
The largest online fundraising platform is GoFundMe, a BBB Accredited Business. In the wake of natural disasters and tragedies, GoFundMe reminds donors that they are monitoring campaigns and that their GoFundMe Guarantee helps protect donations to make sure funds go to the right place. If funds are misused, they will refund affected donations.
If you have a question or want to know more about a campaign before you donate, reach out to the GoFundMe team at support.gofundme.com. To contact the campaign organizer, just click on the envelope next to the campaign organizer’s name on the campaign page. There is also a link on each campaign page to “Report Campaign” if you do not get answers to a question or have other concerns.
GoFundMe has created centralized hubs of campaigns for specific causes. If you are responding to a major disaster or tragedy, look to see if your campaign is listed on a hub page. Whether you are giving to an established charity or through a personal appeal, you can also find tips for safe giving at BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance at give.org