Wise Giving Wednesday: Helping Brussels Victims & Crowdfunding Requests

By H. Art Taylor
President & CEO BBB Wise Giving Alliance
Jul 17, 2020

The horrible terrorist attack that occurred in Brussels on March 22 nd has stirred our hearts and has motivated some donors to do what they can to help the victims.  After a tragedy or disaster, crowdfunding sites are usually one of the first to post requests to assist victims and their families.  However, we caution potential contributors to keep the following cautions in mind.

  1. Watch out for those seeking to take advantage of high public sympathy immediately after a tragedy.  A crowdfunding request may have no official connection to the victims, their families and/or may be using photos of victims without the families’ permission.
  2. Don’t assume that the crowdfunding site has vetted any postings for assistance.  Each site has its own process for posting requests and some may not require anything more than a Facebook page and PayPal account.
  3. If the crowdfunding request is claiming to be raising funds to pass along to an established charity engaged in victim relief, consider giving to the charity directly as crowdfunding sites can charge fundraisers anywhere from 4% to 20% of the total amount donated.  Also, check out established charities on Give.org to verify if they meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability .
  4. When tragedy strikes overseas, foreign-based charities will likely be engaged in providing help to victims.  Keep in mind it will be more difficult to check out such organizations. However, the charity’s website should provide some level of transparency on their operations, finances and governing board oversight.  If interested in supporting such groups, find out if they have an American based affiliate that is eligible to receive donations on their behalf.
  5. If the crowdfunding collection is raising funds to help specific named victim(s)or their families, contributions may not be deductible as charitable gifts for federal income tax purposes.  (See IRS Publication 526.)  Also, contributions to foreign-based charities are generally not deductible as well.

As always, donors will have many opportunities to help. Don’t assume that the needs of victims disappear when the headlines do.

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 that has not been evaluated by us and we will do our best to produce one.

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

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