News & Updates


Wise Giving Wednesday: Helping Victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

Oct 31, 2018

A mass murder of innocent people is a remarkable tragedy, and when it takes place in a house of worship where individuals go to find peace, hope and prayer adds to our sense of devastation. The horrific shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that took place last Saturday moved many of us to tears but also fueled our urge to help the families of those who were injured or killed. While we encourage generosity after all such events, we also remind contributors to be careful and take steps to avoid questionable appeal efforts that often emerge to take advantage of the emotional reactions of donors.

Respect the victims and their families.

Organizations or individuals raising funds should get permission from the families to either use the names of the victims and/or their photographs. In the wake of past tragedies, this was not always done and the fundraisers were subject to criticism.

Be wary of vague appeals.

Watch out for vague appeals that don’t describe the intended use of funds. For example, will they be used to help cover funeral costs, medical expenses for those injured and/or repairs to the synagogue?  Also, unless told otherwise, donors assume that funds collected quickly in the wake of a tragedy will be spent just as quickly.

Crowdfunding Cautions.

Crowdfunding has become so popular that fundraising usually starts within hours after a tragedy has occurred. Please keep in mind that while some crowdfunding sites take precautions in carefully screening postings after a tragedy, others might not. If unsure, review the posting procedures described on the crowdfunding site and also find out about transaction fees and other specifics. Also remember that there may be other giving options such as sending support to the Tree of Life synagogue directly.

Advocacy Organizations.

Tragedies that involve violent acts with firearms can also generate requests from a variety of advocacy organizations that address gun use. Donors can support these efforts as well but note that some of these advocacy groups are not tax exempt as charities. Also, watch out for newly created advocacy groups that will be difficult to check out.

Financial Transparency

After funds are raised for a tragedy, it is even more important for organizations to provide an accounting of how funds were spent. Transparent organizations will post this information on their websites so that anyone can find out and not have to wait until financial statements are available sometime in the future.

Also remember to check out charities at to find out if the subject organizations meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

Video of the Week

We are pleased to provide a video that features highlights of the Donor Trust Report which was discussed in our October 25th press release. The report provides an in-depth look into donors' beliefs, feelings and behavioral intentions related to charity trust and giving. The following video includes clips of interviews with charity leaders reacting to the findings in the report.

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