January 3, 2018

Wise Giving Wednesday: Winter Help for Homeless Shelters

With Artic air dipping into Canada and the United States this first week of 2018, many areas are experiencing sub-zero temperatures. The frigid weather also reminds us of the hardships experienced by the homeless seeking relief from the cold. Some shelters are likely to fill to capacity during such dangerous drops in temperature, especially in major cities. For those seeking to help the homeless during this difficult weather season, we offer the following advice and suggestions. 

Supporting Shelters: Homeless shelters need support, especially this time of year, and would greatly appreciate being remembered in your contribution activities.  Most cities have a number shelters that provide assistance, but need continuing support as other charities. If a BBB charity report is not available, BBB WGA recommends checking out the organization’s website for additional details about its services and needs. 

Financial Information: If you are seeking out financial information on a homeless shelter, transparent organizations will include website access to their latest financial statements. Even small organizations should have some type of available financial statements. Except for those shelters run by houses of worship, charities that bring in $50,000 or more are required to annually complete the IRS Form 990 EZ or the full IRS Form 990 if their gross receipts exceed $200,000. 

In-Kind Donations: It is best to check with a shelter before making an in-kind donation of food, hygiene products, blankets, clothing or coats. This will help you identify what gifts would be most appreciated. Keep in mind that some shelters deal with a large volume of homeless individuals. Also, travel size soaps, shampoos and similar items are usually very helpful for distribution. 

Volunteering: It is quite common for the volume of volunteers to exceed paid staff at many shelters. Those interested in helping out, however, should be willing to undergo a background check as organizations seek to ensure the safety of their clients. Also, some homeless organizations conduct outreach to those homeless that are reluctant to seek shelter in order to provide blankets, food or other necessities directly to where they are located. 

Video of the Week 

As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide a video that features Natasha Museles, Executive Director, Children’s Cancer Foundation (a BBB Accredited Charity). which supports facilities treating children with cancer and researchers and programs designed to assist children or families facing a diagnosis of cancer in Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia. 

Recent Reports 

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

Finally, remember to let us know by going to https://www.give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ 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