How to help the Oklahoma tornado victims
The EF5 tornado that devastated Moore, Okla., on Monday has caused untold damage and claimed at least 24 lives. If you want to help, check out the information below.
BBB advice on giving
In the wake of the devastating tornadoes that ripped through Oklahoma, Better Business Bureau and BBB Wise Giving Alliance have issued tips to help donors make smart giving decisions and to avoid scams.
“After every natural disaster and manmade catastrophe, we see an outpouring of generosity, along with the inevitable scams and frauds,” said Art Taylor, president and CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. “We urge donors to take the time to make sure their donations are going to legitimate charities that can do the most good for those in need.”
BBB Wise Giving Alliance is offering the following tips to help donors decide where to direct donations to assist victims:
- Be cautious when giving online. Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to unsolicited spam messages, and emails and social media posts that claim to link to a relief organization. If you want to give to a charity involved in relief efforts, go directly to the charity’s website. In response to hurricanes Katrina and, Rita, and the Asian tsunamis, the FBI and others raised concerns about websites and new organizations that were created overnight, allegedly to help victims.
- Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity. Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other websites, as they may not have fully researched the relief organizations they list. The public can go to www.bbb.org/charity to research charities and relief organizations and verify that they are accredited by the BBB and meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
- Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. If a charity claims 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting disaster victims, the truth is that the organization is still probably incurring fund raising and administrative expenses. It may use some of its other funds to pay these costs, but the expenses will still be incurred.
- Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas. Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to bring in new aid workers to provide assistance quickly. See if the charity’s website clearly describes what the charity can do to address immediate needs.
- Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups.Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and giving directly to those that have a presence in the region. Or, at a minimum, check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to see whether they are equipped to provide aid effectively.
- Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations. In-kind drives for food and clothing, while well intentioned, may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need – unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to distribute such aid properly. Ask the charity about its transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.
Where to donate
Here are several reputable organizations that are good places to donate to:
American Red Cross
You also can text REDCROSS to 90999. This is a $10 donation.
Text STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation.
Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief
OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund/United Way of Central Oklahoma
If you or someone you know needs emotional support after a tornado or other disaster, contact the Disaster Stress Helpline, a government website devoted to helping people cope with tragedies. Go to http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/ or call 800-985-5990.
FEMA has more resources and information about disaster situations listed on their website, http://www.fema.gov/.
Below watch the latest video coverage of the disaster.