The Better Business Bureau in Tulsa has issued a caution concerning contributing to a charity or outreach connected with this weekâ€™s tragedy at Virginia Tech. BBB of Northeast Oklahoma president Rick Brinkley says in the aftermath of Mondayâ€™s shootings, consumers need to be sure that the contribution they make will do precisely what they want it to do.
â€œThese are emotional times, and as Oklahomans who care we all want to helpâ€, Brinkley said. â€œJust donâ€™t be rushed into making a contribution. Many well meaning folks will be establishing charitable organizations to help with the victims or their families. Unfortunately, many of these well-meaning charities are unsophisticated and not capable of handling significant sums of money. Even more unfortunately, some charitable solicitations are at best deceitful and, at worst, just plain crooked.â€
Brinkley offers this advice: Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing what the charity will do to address the needs of victims and their families.
If you contribute, do not give cash. Make a check or money order out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.
Watch out for excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations. Be wary of any request to send a "runner" to pick up your contribution.
Do not give your credit card number or other personal information to a telephone solicitor. Ask the caller to provide you with written information on the charity's programs and finances.
Do not hesitate to ask for written information that describes the charity's program(s) and finances such as the charity's latest annual report and financial statements. Even newly created organizations should have some basic information available.
Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances and programs. Ask how much of your gift will be used for the activity mentioned in the appeal and how much will go toward other programs and administrative and fund raising costs.
Remember the opportunities to give will continue. The tragedy aftermath will not disappear when the headlines do.
If you have questions, contact the BBB at www.tulsabbb.org.