Columnists

Where to donate to help Kentucky and other areas devastated by tornadoes

Many donors are seeking ways to help those in need as Kentucky and other states begin to recover from the damage caused by severe storms and multiple tornadoes.

BBB’s Give.org recommends before making a contribution or sending a donation to verify if the charity they choose to support meets the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability and review this list of charities.

Instead of clicking on links that others may send in texts and social media, consider making a cash donation directly through the charity’s own website. In an emergency situation, this is likely the fastest way of sending help. In-kind donations of supplies may be well intended but can sometimes be difficult and costly to manage if the charity does not already have an established means to help distribute them to those in need.

Shelters and Emergency Centers

To help locate available shelters and other assistance, the two following national organizations are BBB Accredited Charities with local affiliates across the country:

American Red Cross (a BBB Accredited Charity) announced how they are providing assistance across multiple states.

Salvation Army (the national office is a BBB Accredited Charity) also shared how they are providing assistance in some areas. Check with local affiliates for additional information about specific assistance available in a particular community.

Food Banks

Feeding America (a BBB Accredited Charity) is active in providing groceries to those in need.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding campaigns are already being set up for those in need. While some may be drawn to providing direct assistance to individuals, BBB Wise Giving Alliance recommends the following tips:

Give to people and organizations you know. It is safest to give to crowdfunding postings of people you personally know. If that is not possible, consider a posting that is being managed by an established charitable organization that can be checked out.

Not all crowdfunding sites operate alike. Some crowdfunding platforms do a better job of vetting postings and projects that appear on their site than others. Review the site’s description of its procedures. If they do take precautions, they generally announce that fact loudly to help encourage giving.

See if the posting describes how funds will be used. Vague descriptions of how the collected funds will be used should also be a yellow caution light. Thoughtful collections will take the added step of identifying and verifying needs before money is raised.

Don’t assume pictures represent an official connection to the person or family identified. Unfortunately, some crowdfunding postings may be using pictures of needy individuals without their permission. As a result, you can’t assume an official connection. Again, each site has different rules on what they allow.

Your contribution may not be deductible as a charitable gift. If a crowdfunding posting is claiming to be helping a specific named individual or family, donors in the U.S. generally cannot take a federal income tax deduction, even if the individual or family is in need. See IRS Publication 526, for more information on this subject.

ABOUT BBB SERVING CENTRAL INDIANA: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB serving Central Indiana, which was founded in 1916 and serves 46 counties.