The Russian invasion of Ukraine has left citizens and refugees in need of assistance, and there are many ways to give and offer support. NBC10 Boston's Leslie Gaydos and Rob Michaelson show you the best places to donate your money and how to avoid charity scams.
Rob: It's great to see the outpouring of support for Ukraine with all the help coming into the country. Not all charities are made equal and some can be pretty shady.
The situation in Ukraine is a magnet for charity scams.
Leslie: So many people are moved by the images that we're seeing and the stories that we're seeing coming out of Ukraine. You want to do something, you want to help, that's human nature. But you need to make sure that the money that you're giving is going to where you think it's going and that it is being used to help people in Ukraine. We talked to the chief security officer at Cybereason, and he says that you need to be really wary of anyone reaching out and asking you for money right now.
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Be extra cautious when contacted for donations.
Sam Curry, CSO - Cybereason: The situation in Ukraine is is fresh bait really for hackers of all sorts. Anyone can pretend to be, for instance, the Red Cross and say, hey, we're taking donations and send you something. If you want to give money. choose a charity, then go there. Don't respond to what shows up in your inbox.
Actively find a charity to donate for Ukraine.
Rob: Yeah, the Better Business Bureau has established charity standards to verify the trustworthiness. But even if a charity is trustworthy, it may not be the best option. What are some of the best charities to give to you right now if you want to help Ukraine?
Leslie: So, according to the Better Business Bureau, they are recommending charities like Catholic Relief Services, Direct Relief, Global Giving, International Rescue Committee and Save the Children. But any time you are going to give to a charity, you need to make sure that you're on the right website. There are spoof websites of some charities out there.
Rob: So for any organization, it's a good idea to see how they're actually helping right now.
Make sure the charity can get to the impacted area.
Leslie: According to the BBB, not all relief organizations are going to be able to provide timely assistance right now unless they already have a presence in Ukraine. So one of the first things that you should be asking before you're making your donation is - can the charity get to the impacted area?
Rob: So in a crisis like this, what items should I be donating? Is there anything in particular like food or clothing?
Donating items locally may not be the best option.
Leslie: Local drives to collect food and clothing to send overseas may not be practical right now, and that's just because of the logistics and the timing to deliver those things. It might be a better idea to donate money to a charity and then they can obtain those items and then get them dispersed quickly on the ground.
Donating money should make the most impact right now
Rob: And of course, with any situation, crowdfunding comes into play and people are looking to chip in and help any way they can. But when it comes to crowdfunding, what should people be thinking about?
More on the situation in Ukraine
Leslie: If you are interested in engaging in crowdfunding, you just want to be careful, be wary, do your due diligence, do some research about who you're giving to. It's always best to give to someone who you know and who you trust so you're not being scammed by someone. You also want to review the platform's policies regarding fees and distribution of collected funds. So you know exactly how much of your money is going to the cause that you want it to go to. Some crowdfunding sites do very little to vet individuals or organizations that are posting for relief assistance. The Better Business Bureau has a website give.org, where you can check out the validity of any charity, and that will help you to make a good decision.
Give.org is a good resource to check on a charity.
Rob: So whenever I donate to a charity, I'm always thinking, how much of the money is actually going to the cause or what I want it to go to? So when there's a claim, let's say, for like 80% or 100%, you know, how do I know what's legitimate?
Leslie: You do need to find out how much of your donation is going to the charity that you are giving to. That's a really good question to ask and do a little research before you make your donation to find out exactly how much. I mean, be wary on crowdfunding sites. If someone is saying that 100% of your donation is going to go toward the cause that you're giving to, there are always administrative fees. Even if you're making a credit card donation, there will be a processing fee on that. So that's a red flag if it says 100%.