Give to Haiti, but don't get took
by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo
Jan 19, 2010 | 8538 views | 0 0 comments | 69 69 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo released information to help New Yorkers make informed decisions when donating to relief efforts.

“As our hearts and thoughts continue to be with the people of Haiti and their families, we know that generous New Yorkers are eager to help with the relief and recovery efforts,” said Cuomo. “We encourage New Yorkers to consider donating to the relief efforts, and stress that they should do so wisely.”

To best assure that your donation will be used for its intended purpose, follow these suggestions:

Give to Established Charities. Beware of organizations with which you are not familiar, or which appear to have been created solely in response to this tragedy. Do not give in response to unsolicited spam emails. Watch out for charities with names that resemble those of prominent or established organizations. Some fake charities use names similar to well known charities in order to confuse donors. Also, give to charities who are experienced in assisting with disaster relief.

Evaluate the Charities. Review information about the charities before you give. Check the Attorney General’s website - - for financial reports on charities, or ask the charities directly for the reports. Confirm that the organization is a recognized tax-exempt organization. The following websites contain helpful information to evaluate charities: American Institute of Philanthropy, Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, and GuideStar.

Ask How Donation Will Be Used. Ask specifically how the charity plans to use your donation, including the services and organizations your donation will support. Ask if the charity already has worked in Haiti or has relationships with any local relief organizations. Also, ask what the charity plans to do with any excess donations. Avoid charities that make emotional appeals but are vague in answering your questions. Be wary if an organization will not provide written information about charitable programs and finances upon request. Any legitimate organization will be glad to send you this information.

Never Give Cash. Give your contribution by check made payable to the charity.

Be Careful About Personal Information. Avoid giving credit card or personal information over the phone or by text message. In all cases, make sure you are familiar with the organization and check to see that the fundraising campaign is legitimate.

If you suspect that a scam is taking place, please contact the Attorney General’s office at (212) 416-8402.
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