Want to help Ukrainian residents? Do your homework on charities first

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dominated the news headlines, and millions of people from around the world have likely had the same thought. How can I help?

Stephanie Garland of the BBB speaking about do and don’t when considering a charitable donation

Regardless of the situation, whether it’s a natural disaster, disease, or war, existing organizations are ready and willing to help the affected area’s residents.

Stephanie Garland, Regional Director of the Better Business Bureau in Springfield, MO

Regional Director of the Better Business Bureau, Stephanie Garland, says that if a so-called charitable organization advertises that they are donating 100% of your contribution to help the residents of Ukraine that you should reconsider donating to that charity.

“That should be a huge red flag because staffing costs need to be getting paid as well. So what Better Business Bureau advises is to 8 to 12 cents on the dollar should be kept for staff costs.”

Shortly a major domestic or international crisis, it’s common that appeals to donate towards a crowdfunding site pop up, but the BBB strongly urges you NOT to donate to them unless you know and trust the individuals that established it

It can be challenging to determine how your donation will be used in crowdfunding, and it’s unlikely that the Better Business Bureau or Give.org has vetted the organizer of the site.

To help consumers better understand where their donations are going, the Better Business Bureau has established 20 Standards For Charity Accountability. The standards include four sub-groups: Governance and Oversight, Measuring Effectiveness, Finances, and Solicitations and Information Materials. According to Stephanie, the vetting process for charities is stricter than for businesses.

“So it has 20 standards of accreditation, so that’s many more than businesses have. So some of those talk about really specific things. Like program expenses, fundraising expenses, an audit report, a budget plan, truthful materials.”

Regardless of the situation or time of year, countless charities accept donations. If you’re feeling charitable and want to help, visit a site like Give.org, which provides links and transparency reports to exactly how the organization is operated and managed. Also, trying to avoid social media fundraising pleas that likely have not been vetted.

In addition, Give.org provides the individual’s name, who runs the outfit, and salary and information regarding the ongoing operations of the charity, where it started and its purpose. Doing this research allows you to understand better where your donation is going and how it will be spent. You can find a charity that aligns with your beliefs, such as Catholic Relief Services, Global Giving, or Operation USA. Stephanie says the BBB and Give.org vet organizations to ensure that donors know where their money is going.

“So any of those charities, do have boots on the ground, do have reputable, trustworthy sources, you know that the money that you’re going to be donating is actually going to be helping people in Ukraine.”

Stephanie Garland is the Regional Director of the Better Business Bureau in Springfield, Missouri.


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