“I can’t NOT open an e-mail that says: ‘Please Help’” says Barb Tubekis, executive director for the Volunteer Center in Winnetka. But, more often than not, when she opens up that e-mail, it’s a scam.
Expect a lot of these e-mails to fly around in the next several months surrounding the 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti earlier this week.
Tubekis’ best advice: “If something doesn’t sound familiar or it hasn’t been started by someone you know, I’d be very wary of it.”
In fact, well known organizations like Doctors without Borders are starting to put cautionary notes on their websites like this one:
“Alert: Due to reports of fraudulent activity, we are asking all donors to please be wary of third-party solicitations for Haiti relief. To ensure that your donation goes directly to Doctors Without Borders, please use our secure website or toll-free phone number 1-888-392-0392.”
Right now the best way you can help Haiti is by donating money to a dedicated disaster relief organizations such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army or UNICEF.
“They know how to get supplies and where the money needs to go to give the best help,” Tubekis says.
And even if an organization is well known, it’s probably worth a little extra research to make sure that the money you are donating is going where you want it.
“You have scam artists, but the bigger danger is that people will donate to organizations that are well meaning but aren’t the most efficient use of your dollars,” Tubekis says. “We saw this with a very well known organization during Katrina.”
So, to do a little digging and track those dollars, we recommend that you check out the following websites before you donate:
America’s premier independent charity evaluator, Charity Navigator works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of more than 5,400 of America’s largest charities.
This page has been created as an informational page to allow everyone to share general comments, relevant information, to help find family members in Haiti, and guide everyone in donating only to legitimate relief organizations.