Business

BBB Offers Guidance on Crowdfunding Sites for Volcano Victims

May 9, 2018, 9:19 AM HST
* Updated May 9, 9:23 AM
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The volcano eruptions in the Puna District on Hawai‘i Island has destroyed more than 30 structures and forced nearly 2,000 residents to evacuate. This natural disaster has many looking for ways to help those affected by donating monetarily. Unfortunately, scammers may be looking at ways to benefit from this tragedy.  Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific is urging donors to do their research before donating to a crowdsourcing campaign.

BBB Accredited Business GoFundMe is monitoring all campaigns related to the volcano eruption. The business is working to verify all campaigns to ensure the money goes to the correct place. Their  GoFundMe Guarantee helps protect donations to make sure funds are delivered and used for their stated purpose. If funds are misused, they will refund affected donations.

Visit https://www.gofundme.com/cause/hawaii-volcano, where you will find verified campaigns to support those affected by Hawai‘i Island’s Kīlauea eruption.

Several other crowdfunding sites are BBB Accredited, but unfortunately, this does not guarantee you won’t be scammed by a fake campaign.

Consider the following tips for donating safely to a crowdfunding site:

  • Make it your business to know. Don’t assume the recipient knows the account is being established and funds are being collected in their name. If you do not know the named beneficiary personally, ask someone who does to verify the funds are going directly to the mentioned recipient.
  • The more information, the better. If you do choose to give to a crowdsourcing campaign, look for deep and specific information. Technology and social media are the perfect weapons for scammers. Personal photos, birthdates and social media posts that are public allow them to establish a profile that is very believable. Videos, bios, continual updates and links can be better indicators that the campaign is legitimate.
  • Consider other options. If you are at all unsure of the campaign, think of other ways you can give. Write a check to the family directly, ask if there is an account set up in their name at a local financial institution or consider donating to a well-known organization that will use our dollars to support the cause more efficiently.
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· Setting up a crowdfunding campaign? Crowdfunding sites are a great resource to raise funds. Before you finalize an account, do some research. Read and understand the site’s terms and conditions. Sites need a source of income to provide this tool, and many will take a small percentage of the funds raised to cover those operating costs. Others may charge donors a fee to give. To give or receive funds you will also have to input personal information so take the time to review the privacy policy.

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If you are still uncertain about donating to a crowdfunding site, consider donating to an established charity instead. You can find a trustworthy charity at give.org.

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