Wise Giving Wednesday: Donating to Buffalo Shooting Victims

Hero image for Wise Giving Wednesday: Donating to Buffalo Shooting Victims
calendar icon May 18, 2022


To hear about any mass shooting is emotionally devastating but generates additional grief when the victims have been targeted out of racism. What happened in a Buffalo, New York supermarket this past weekend is heart wrenching and brings many of us to tears. At the same time, we also are motivated to help the families of the victims of those who were killed or injured. To help people make informed giving decisions, we encourage potential donors to be aware of the different circumstances that often emerge in tragedy-related philanthropy.

Does the appeal respect victims and their families?

Charitable organizations or crowdfunding postings raising funds should get permission from the families to use either the names of the victims and/or any photographs of them. Don’t assume there is an official connection if photos are displayed.

How will donations be used?

Be cautious about vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds. For example, is money being collected for funeral expenses or other family needs? Also, unless told otherwise, donors will assume that collected funds quickly collected after a tragedy will be distributed or spent just as quickly.

Advocacy Organizations

Tragedies that involve violent acts with firearms can also generate requests from a variety of advocacy organizations that address gun use. Donors can support these efforts as well but note that some of these advocacy groups are not tax exempt as charities. Also, watch out for newly created advocacy groups that will be difficult to check out.

Tax Deductibility

Contributions that are donor-restricted to help a specific individual/family are not deductible in the U.S. as charitable donations, even if the recipient organization is a charity. See IRS Publication 526, page 7, for more information on this subject.  

Check out recent announcements to avoid duplication of effort.

Be mindful of public announcements that identify assistance being provided to victim families to help avoid donating to duplicative efforts.

Crowdfunding advice

Crowdfunding has become so popular that it is not unusual for fundraising to start within hours after a tragedy has occurred. Please keep in mind that while some crowdfunding sites take precautions in carefully screening, vetting and managing postings after a tragedy, others might not. If unsure, review the posting procedures described on the crowdfunding site and also find out about transaction fees and other specifics. 

As always, we remind donors to check out charities by visiting Give.org to verify if the charity meets the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

Video of the Week

As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to revisit a video featuring an interview with Dr. Neal D. Barnard, President of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (a BBB Accredited Charity) an organization that reports it combines its more than 12,000 physicians with its 175,000 members to promote nutritional interventions to prevent and combat chronic disease and advocate for technological advances in medical research and toxicology to replace the use of animals. Its primary care clinic, the Barnard Medical Center, specializes in diet-related chronic disease and integrates nutrition counseling into patient treatment protocols. The organization also works with governments, academics, corporations, and other stakeholders to devise alternatives to animal testing, press for global adoption of these methods, and train scientists in how to use them.

Heart of Giving Podcast

In this week's Heart of Giving Podcast, BBB Wise Giving Alliance interviews Natalie Jaresko, former Ukraine Finance Minister. She discusses the outpouring of philanthropic support during the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

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