BBB advises caution when donating to Ukraine

Not all charities are the same

The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan is advising caution when donating to Ukraine.

The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan is advising caution when donating to Ukraine.

Pioneer file photo

Individuals interested in donating to help those in need during the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine should take care to avoid scams and potential pitfalls of giving, a news release from the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan advised.

The BBBSWM is advising potential donors to be deliberate with their donations. 
“Unfortunately, bad actors often try to take advantage of people’s good will,” said Lisa Frohnapfel, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “You want to make sure your donation is used as intended, so it is important to take some time and make sure the charity you are working with can deliver on their promises and support.”
While generosity to help the people in Ukraine is encouraged, the BBB is cautioning donors to avoid questionable appeals by keeping the following tips in mind:

Can the charity get to the impacted area? Not all relief organizations will be positioned to provide relief quickly. See if the charity already has a presence in Ukraine.

Should you send clothing and food? Local drives to collect clothing and food to send overseas may not be practical as the logistics and timing to deliver and disperse such items will be challenging. Relief organizations are better equipped to obtain what is needed, distribute it effectively and avoid duplication of effort.

Does the relief charity meet BBB Charity Standards? You can verify a charity’s trustworthiness by viewing an evaluative report completed by BBB Wise Giving Alliance.  Check the list of charities that that are soliciting for relief assistance for Ukraine and that also meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

Is the charity experienced in providing emergency relief? Experienced disaster relief charities are the best bet to help deliver aid as soon as possible. New entrants may have difficulty in following through even if they have the best of intentions.

Are you considering crowdfunding appeals? If engaging in crowdfunding, it is safest to give to someone you personally know and trust, and review the platform’s policies regarding fees and distribution of collected funds. If the crowdfunding request is from a charity, check out the group by visiting Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals or organizations that decide to post for relief assistance. Sites that take security measures will usually provide descriptions of these procedures.

Does the appeal make exaggerated financial claims? Charities have fundraising and administrative expenses, so any charity claiming “100% will be spent on relief” is potentially misleading the donating public. Even a credit card donation will have a processing fee.