August 30, 2017

Wise Giving Wednesday: In the Eye of the Storm

On Monday, BBB Wise Giving Alliance along with BBB’s distributed a press release that included advice on contributing to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts along with a list of BBB Accredited Charities raising funds. And now, Southeast Texas, as well as parts of Louisiana, are bracing for Harvey’s return.  As reported on CNN, the numbers are staggering: 11 trillion gallons of rain already dumped on Texas, 13 million people under flood watch warnings, 3,400 water rescues and an estimated 30,000 people who will need temporary shelter.

As the storm system continues its damage, we must also keep in mind one of the most important lessons from fundraising efforts of disasters past: giving to established, experienced and vetted relief organizations is one of the best ways to help. Here are just some of the advantages:

  • Logistics. Time is of the essence during the rescue and relief stage of a disaster. Organizations with boots on the ground, that are already engaged in delivering services, can help deliver faster than newly created efforts. Also, it's vital to have the ability not only to transport the items to the impacted area but to be able to distribute them as well.
  • Economies of scale. It's much cheaper for charities to buy or obtain large quantities of items in bulk (for example, bottles of water) than it would be for a new effort to do the same thing.
  • Knowing what is needed. Organizations already operating in the field have a better handle on identifying upcoming supply shortages than other entities that might assume what is important to obtain.
  • Not impeding existing efforts. The old expression "too many cooks spoil the broth" can be applied to disaster relief as well. Too many trucks and vehicles trying to deliver goods can end up creating bottlenecks that slow down efforts rather than enhance existing relief activities.
  • Avoiding duplication. Depending on the volume of competing relief efforts, some might unintentionally duplicate the work of others by bringing in items already in stock or focusing activities on areas that are already covered by existing organizations.

So, our message to those seeking to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey is to help point family and friends to trusted relief organizations that meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability (i.e., BBB Accredited Charities.)    

As part of our Building Trust Video series, we are pleased to provide a video that features Bruce Wilkinson, President and CEO, Catholic Medical Mission Board (a BBB Accredited Charity) which seeks to build the healthcare capacity of local communities. Its programs focus primarily on the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and childhood illnesses such as respiratory illnesses, malnutrition, measles, malaria and diarrhea. In addition to Cotes-de-Fer and Haiti, the Board addresses needs in Peru, Kenya, South Sudan and Zambia. 

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to if you are  interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.   

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance