News & Updates


Wise Giving Wednesday: Fundraising for Tragedies at Houses of Worship

Apr 24, 2019

The terrorist bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday at three churches and three hotels, with over 250 deaths and hundreds more wounded, is an unspeakable horror. The emotional impact of such a hideous act motivates many of us to provide assistance of some type not only to help impacted families but to demonstrate care and concern. 

Last month, in the wake of the shooting at a mosque in New Zealand, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance recommended that donors turn to established and experienced relief organizations that meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. We offer the same advice for those seeking to assist families and victims of the bombings in Sri Lanka. However, we recognize that many turn to crowdfunding sites during times like this. So, we also offer these additional points:

  • How are crowdfunding sites different? Some crowdfunding platforms vet postings and projects better than others. Check out the site’s description of its procedures.
  • Are photos used with permission? Some crowdfunding postings use pictures of victims without the family’s permission. Don’t assume there is a special connection just because a photo appears.
  • How will collected funds be used? Will the funds be used to help pay for funerals, church reconstruction, medical expenses, or some other purpose? Be cautious if the description is vague.
  • How to avoid duplication of effort? Review recent announcements from government agencies and other institutions that address how they will be assisting victims. This can help donors identify crowdfunding postings that might be duplicating those efforts.
  • What is the safest crowdfunding option?  It is safest to give to crowdfunding postings of people you personally know. If that is not possible, the next best circumstance is to find out if the funds collected by a posting are going to be forwarded and distributed by an established charitable organization. In that case, the organization can be checked out and the involvement of a third-party organization can provide an additional level of oversight and assurance.

Last week, our blog included advice about contributing to assist with reconstruction as a result of the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. We identified several entities that were accepting funds according to the French Ministry of Culture. We have since learned that there are two entities in the United States that are accepting donations to assist with reconstruction: French Heritage Society and the Friends of Notre Dame de Paris. BBB Wise Giving Alliance is requesting information from both of these charities in order to produce reports.

As reported in The New York Times and on, one impact of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire is that it brought renewed attention to the three Baptist churches that were burned in Louisiana’s St. Landry Parish during late March and early April. These burnings are suspected to be hate crimes. The article reported that crowdfunding for these churches increased after the Notre Dame fire, and have now cumulatively brought in $1.95 million to help with reconstruction.

Video of the Week

As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide a video featuring John Engle, Co-Director, Haiti Partners (a BBB Accredited Charity) that centers its work on Haitian education through two primary avenues schools and holistic churches. The organization reports that it provides education for over 1,200 students in six partner schools and its own flagship school, the Childrens Academy and Learning Center. Haiti Partners states its school-based community development model allows for students to receive education and learn locally relevant knowledge like permaculture gardening and composting.

Recent Reports

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