Wise Giving Wednesday: Six Questions About Fundraising for Kansas City Shooting Victims

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calendar icon Feb 21, 2024

On February 14th, it was shocking to learn about the mass shooting that disrupted a parade celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory. Over 20 people were shot including one woman who was killed. As expected, many are seeking to help the victims and their families. BBB Wise Giving Alliance encourages interested contributors to consider the following six questions about donating in response to tragedy-related philanthropy.

1. Do fundraising appeals respect families of victims?

As charitable organizations and/or crowdfunding postings raise funds to help, they also 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.

2. Are the appeals clear about how money will be used?

Be cautious about vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds. For example, is money being collected for medical expenses or other family needs? Also, unless told otherwise, donors will assume that contributed funds quickly collected after a tragedy will be distributed or spent just as quickly. Be mindful of public announcements that describe family assistance to help avoid donating to duplicative efforts.

3. Will donations be tax deductible?

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.  

4. What about crowdfunding requests?

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 find out about transaction fees and other specifics.

5. Will Sales Benefit Charitable Purposes?
If items are sold, such as t-shirts, stating that their purchase will benefit the victims of the parade shooting, see if the promotion specifies which charity will benefit and how much of the purchase will go to the organization. Be cautious when vague terms are used such as “proceeds” or “profits” will go to the charity.
6. How do you verify charity trustworthiness?

Tragedies can generate donation requests from a variety of organizations seeking to help victims of violence or advocate on related issues. As always, we remind donors to check out charities by visiting Give.org to verify if the charity meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability (i.e., a BBB Accredited Charity). Be cautious about newly created groups that may be difficult to check out.

Heart of Giving Podcast

This week’s Heart of Giving Podcast features Part 2 of an interview with Toshi Hoo. Toshi leads Institute for the Future’s Emerging Media Lab (EML), where he explores the implications of rapidly evolving technologies that are transforming the ways humans communicate, collaborate, and connect.

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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