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Seeing the suffering and struggle in our local communities prompts many people to reach into their wallets to provide support. As the Black Lives Matter movement has recently gained steam again following the death of George Floyd, we’re seeing dozens of organizations, both old and new, rise to the surface in hopes of bringing change.

As consumers look to contribute, some are out in the streets protesting, but due to fears over COVID-19, many are still at home wondering how they can participate.

At Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific, we know folks passionate about the Black Lives Matter movement want to give. But, deciding where to donate isn’t always easy. How do you make sure your money is making an impact?

"Donating to a cause you support is a great way to help make a difference,” says Kelsey Gardipee, Charity Review Manager for BBB Northwest + Pacific. “To make sure that your donation makes the greatest impact, do a quick bit of research first to ensure that you know who you're donating to."

This is particularly important right now as consumers decide which element of the cause they want to give to — different funds are set up for very different reasons. Are you looking to donate to victim relief? A bail fund? Or perhaps an organization focused on policy change? Whichever you’re looking to do, double-check the charity’s website and mission to verify.

Another piece to consider is the organization’s process for distributing funds. Researching here is vital to know exactly how your money will be used — try to locate a financial report to see how much of each donation goes to operational costs vs. boots on the ground. Established, legitimate charities should have the capacity and experience to address these common questions and have a track record ready for your review.

No matter the group want to support, make certain your money is truly being used to help causes that matter to you. Better Business Bureau offers these tips:

Research. Get familiar with the organization and its mission. Visit the organization's official website to learn about their purpose and how they work to achieve their goals, including all the resources they offer for getting involved.

Double-check the donation method. PayPal, Venmo and Cash App are easy ways to give, and many social media posts are directing people to use these methods. But before you donate, make sure you have the correct account or handle. Donating via a quick-pay app does not have the same protections as using a credit card should your donation land in the wrong hands.

Check social media for updated information. Some organizations have received so many donations recently that they recommended people donate to other charities. The most up-to-date information can usually be found on their social media page.

Consult outside sources. Websites like BBB’s Give.org, Charity Navigator, and Charity Watch can help you decide where to give. While every organization may not be listed in their directories, these websites can help you connect with reliable opportunities to donate.

"BBB accredits charities to help donors find trustworthy organizations to support, but we recognize that there are other avenues out there to support racial equality,” Gardipee clarifies. “When dealing with crowdfunding campaigns, social welfare groups (501c(c)4s), and newly formed organizations, you'll have to take different steps to verify their accountability.”

So, as your heart moves you to bring about change, take time to ensure your well-intentioned help is going to the right place. Carefully choosing a charitable organization ensures your money connects important causes with needed support.

About BBB Wise Giving Alliance

BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a standards-based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of nationally-soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, effectiveness reporting, finances, fundraising, appeal accuracy, and other issues. Learn more about the 20 BBB Charity Standards and about local charity review at local Better Business Bureaus at Give.org.

(Danielle Kane is the Oregon State Director for the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific.)

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