In the aftermath of the latest mass shooting, many of us feel a need to reach out and try to help the victims and their families.
And within hours of the deaths of 50 people in Orlando, money started pouring in to charities and crowd funding sites from all over the US.
It's a commendable thing to do, and shows the goodness of Americans. But the Better Business Bureau says you need to put your emotions on hold for just a few minutes, and carefully check who you are giving to.
"We want you to give compassionately, but we want you to give carefully," said Sandra Guile of the Better Business Bureau.
Questionable Requests Popping Up
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance says it is already hearing of "click-bait" requests for donations (that lead to questionable websites) as well as vague crowd sourcing campaigns, where it's very tough to know where your money is going.
"Before clicking that button to give, see where that money is going, see how that money is being spent and funded," Guile said.
The problem is that in these days of immediately crowd sourcing, charities can pop up overnight, and in just a few hours raise thousands of dollars, without anyone really knowing who they are.
It's a change from the days where American Red Cross collected most of the money for disaster victims, then distributed the funds.
Anyone can open up a GoFundMe or Facebook page, link it to the #OrlandoUnited hashtag, and start accepting money.
Groups Accepting Donations
The largest recipient so far, according to Newsweek magazine, is Equality Florida,the state's LGBT organization, which has collected nearly $2 million in less than 48 hours.
The group has set up a Support Victims of the Pulse Shooting Go Fund Me page and vows all money will go to victims and their families.
However, donors who wish to give to a less political organization can donate blood (although Orlando blood banks say their needs are filled right now), or make a cash contribution to the American Red Cross,
The Red Cross is not accepting specific items right now for the Orlando victims, though monetary gifts can be sent with the request that they go to Orlando area families.
Warning Signs of Scams
Several GoFundMe pages are popping up for specific victims of the attack, but again the Better Business Bureau says you want to check first to see who is collecting and handling the money.
- Many well-intentioned crowd funding sites have misplaced the money that was donated to the people named on the site.
- Also, the BBB says scammers have been known to use the name and image of a shooting victim to create phony crowd sourcing pages.
- In addition, it expects less tech-savvy scammers to reach out the old fashioned way, by calling random phone numbers and claiming to be collecting for victims.
Finally, in an event like this, remember that many groups collecting money are not charities but advocacy organizations (pro-gun, anti-gun, etc). Feel free to donate, but make sure you know who they are before you do.
That way you don't waste your money.