Before You Donate to Hurricane Ike Efforts...

ARLINGTON, Virginia - Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance is encouraging donors to give responsibly to Hurricane Ike relief efforts.

"We're seeing reports from charities indicating that thus far gift-giving for hurricane season is unusually low, and due to this circumstance, some charities are considering borrowing money to support hurricane-response efforts," said Art Taylor, president and CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following information to help donors make informed charitable giving decisions.

Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity.
Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other web sites, as they might not have fully researched relief organizations.

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.

Be cautious when giving online
Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to spam messages and e-mails that claim to link to a relief organization.

Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas
See if the charity's web site clearly describes what they can do to address immediate needs.

Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groupsDonors may want to consider "avoiding the middleman" and giving directly to charities that have a presence in the region.

Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations
Ask the charity about their transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance. To research charities and relief organizations to verify they are accredited by BBB and meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability donors can visit or contact the BBB of Kansas at (785) 232-0454.