Giving is Not Just About Making A Donation - You Make a Difference.
There are many opportunities to support disaster-recovery efforts and help people whose lives have been upended by Hurricane Florence, but you should be careful. It's also prime time for scam artists to take advantage of your generosity and steal your money or even your identity. Take these steps to help you choose a charity:
Research Your Charity
It’s easy to get fooled by a charity’s name so you need to do your homework. And beware of scam artists pretending to represent an organization that doesn’t exist. Read a charity’s financial statements to see how they spend their (your) money. Even better, volunteer before you write a check. Many organizations that analyze charities are compiling lists of top-rated organizations that are helping hurricane victims. The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance frequently updates its list of BBB-accredited charities that are raising funds to aid victims of Hurricane Florence. The list includes some large charities that have established funds specifically for Florence relief efforts, such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the United Way of Central Carolinas. Charity Navigator is also posting the names of reputable charities that are helping hurricane victims.
Learn About Local Organizations
Besides national charities, many lesser-known, local groups are raising funds:
The Foundation for the Carolinas is working with local officials, business and community leaders, and area nonprofits to decide how to distribute the money to help with immediate relief needs and longer-term recovery.
Michael Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Hornets and grew up in Wilmington, which was devastated by Florence, set up a website (www.cares.nba.com) to direct donations to reputable organizations.
The state of North Carolina has a list of “Voluntary Organizations Active in a Disaster.”
The Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina and the Diaper Bank of North Carolina are likely two local charities you’ve never heard of, yet they are very active in relief efforts.
North Carolina arranged for contributions to be made by texting FLORENCE to 20222. South Carolina is directing people to donate to the One SC Fund.
Amazon – a global company that has a very large presence in the Carolinas – has partnered with Feeding America and the Red Cross to create wish lists where with a single click, you can purchase and send needed goods to help relief efforts.
Donate Stock If you have owned stock for more than a year and it has appreciated, then don’t sell it first and then give the cash to charity. Those appreciated assets can be donated directly to charity without you or the charity incurring capital gains taxes (consult your tax professional to be sure).
Provide a Place to Stay So many people were displaced by the storm and are now having a hard time finding shelter. Airbnb is making it easy for people with available property nearby to offer temporary accommodations for free. Many of these donated properties are in North and South Carolina.
Beware of Scams and Protect Yourself Don't respond to an e-mail or call asking for donations to help hurricane victims. Instead, take the time to look up the charity on your own before donating. Scam artists use disasters as a way to take advantage of people's generosity and sense of urgency to steal their money or their personal information. For more information, see the Federal Trade Commission's Signs of a Charity Scam page.
Ask for a Receipt Remember, for charitable contributions of $250 or more, you need a donor’s acknowledgement letter. And generally, it’s a good idea to obtain receipts, especially when donating goods.
Register to Volunteer North Carolina has an online form (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XC5QDYB) where you can sign up to volunteer and list your skills. The United Way and the Red Cross are desperate for volunteers.
Involve Your Family, Especially Your Kids
Consider research from Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia, Lara Aknin at Simon Fraser University and Michael Norton at Harvard Business School. Essentially what they found in their study is the following:
Spending money on other people has a more positive impact on happiness than spending money on oneself
Spending more of one’s income on others predicted greater happiness
And finally, remember the words of Mother Teresa: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
If you have any questions or need help mapping out your giving, call me so that we can discuss.