Wise Giving Wednesday: Nepal Disaster Relief, Crowdfunding and Social Media
Last week’s blog included some comments and advice on donating to different stages of Nepal earthquake relief efforts that will require future support just as much as today. In the past decade, fundraising for disaster relief became one of the first charity activities that demonstrated continuing success with both online and mobile contributions, and now social media as well. Disasters generate immediate public concern that motivate individuals to respond with the urgency such tragedies deserve.
Facebook added a Donate Button in conjunction with users’ News Feed which resulted in over $10 million for Nepal relief efforts going to the International Medical Corps. Here, social media was helping to raise funds for a BBB Accredited Charity with significant experience in emergency response to disasters. Perhaps inspired by this successful effort, BBBs also learned others created questionable requests via Facebook that had nothing to do with established charities.
Crowdfunding also became a player in addressing the desire to send help to Nepal for smaller relief efforts. GlobalGiving.org, another BBB Accredited Charity, raised $2.3 million towards its goal of $2.5 million for various Nepal relief projects that go through significant vetting by GlobalGiving before posting. But not every crowdfunding experience conducts that type of due diligence.
Some of the other crowdfunding sites, such as those run by for-profit firms, enable individuals to post a project for Nepal relief with nothing more than a Paypal and Facebook account for identity verification. A visit to some of these report individuals raising $30,000, $100,000 or more for reported projects such as rebuilding homes, assisting earthquake victims, and other efforts. While most of these are probably well meaning and honest about their appeals, how does one sort out which of these activities are real or will be accomplished? Unfortunately, these types of crowdfunding efforts involve an element of donor risk as well as raise problems with tax deductibility if the recipient is not an established charity that has 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.
Social media does present opportunities to help raise funds from a larger audience of potential donors in the wake of a disaster, but con artists and questionable efforts can arise during this surge of popularity. Individual stories of need can be touching and heart wrenching, but that should not be the sole basis on which to make an informed giving decision. Our best recommendation is to seek out trustworthy charities by verifying if charity is BBB Accredited (meets all 20 BBB Charity Standards).
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:
- Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
- Soccer Without Borders
- National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources
- Trickle Up Program
Finally, remember to let us know by going to https://give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.
H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance