BBB Advice for Donating to Victims, Businesses in Kenosha
Milwaukee, Wis. – In the past three days, dozens of new GoFundMe fundraising pages have been set up to help Jacob Blake, shot by police on Sunday, as well as Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, who were fatally shot by an armed teenager during protests, and for Gaige Grosskreutz, who survived. In addition, new GoFundMe fundraising pages can be found for Kenosha businesses that have been damaged or destroyed during these protests. BBB wants to remind donors who want to help to proceed with caution and do research before making a donation to any individual or cause.
Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe can make supporting – and raising money for – a good cause easier than ever, but it’s not without issues. Con artists can use crowdfunding platforms to deceive donors and steal money for personal use. Or the money can be raised with the best intentions, but not end up used for its stated purpose.
The following tips will help you practice smart giving if you decide to donate on a crowdfunding platform.
- Give to individuals and organizations you know personally. Charities can be vetted, but it is much harder to verify the trustworthiness of individuals who have posted a request for financial help. The safest way to donate on a crowdfunding platform is to give to someone you already know.
- Photos don’t mean a campaign is legitimate. Con artists often use pictures of victims without their permission to make donors believe the campaign is legitimate. This is especially true in the wake of a major tragedy. Your first line of defense against a crowdfunding scam is a reverse image search. Cross check any photos used in the campaign to see if they have been lifted from another website.
- Transparency is key. Vague descriptions of how donated funds will be used is a big red flag. Trustworthy charities and individuals will clearly explain the intended use of collected funds.
- Avoid duplicate efforts. Stay up to date on the latest news about victim support efforts. If government agencies offer to pay for healthcare or funeral costs, for example, any crowdfunding pages that offer the same assistance may have to ask donors if their funds can be used in an alternative way.
- Beware of emotional appeals and images. Scammers love to con people out of money by telling overly dramatic tales that elicit an emotional response. They usually pair their appeals with urgent pleas, saying they need the money right now. In addition, they may support their stories with heart-wrenching images.
- Not all donations are tax-deductible. In general, donations made to help a specifically identified individual or family are not deductible as a charity donation for federal income tax purposes. Also, if a nonprofit organization is soliciting for donations, see if it is tax-exempt as a charity under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
For More Information
For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2019, people turned to BBB more than 183 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.8 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 Wisconsin which was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.
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