The Edmond Sun

May 25, 2013

Do a little research before donating to the cause

By Sean Hubbard
Special to The Sun

STILLWATER — The outpouring of support for those affected by the horrendous tornadoes that recently ripped through central Oklahoma has been significant.

There are many different ways in which people can donate money, food, water, clothing and supplies. However, while most of these arevalid and helpful charities, there can be a few snakes in the grass, said Sissy Osteen, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension resource managementspecialist.

“Unfortunately, scammers will try and play on our emotions in times like this,” she said. “People just need to remember to check into the charity before making any donations.”

The Federal Trade Commission advises to avoid any charity that:

• Refuses to provide detailed information about its identity, mission, costs and how donations will be used;

• Will not provide proof donations are tax deductible;

• Uses a name closely resembling that of a better-known organization;

• Uses high-pressure tactics to get donations before you have time to think about it and do some research;

• Asks for donations in cash;

• Offers to send a courier to collect donations immediately; and

• Guarantees sweepstakes winnings in exchange for contributions.

“There is nothing wrong with wanting to help those in need,” Osteen said. “Everyone should do all they can to help raise funds for the victims of this terrible tornado. It is what we consider ‘the Oklahoma Spirit.’ That is more easily accomplished if a little legwork is done before any checks are written or money is exchanged. Most of us want to know that the donations we make are actually helping the people that we want to help.”

The Division of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources at OSU has created a tornado information page on its website at http://www.dasnr.okstate.edu/tornado. There is a section on the page showing several ways in which people can make donations to reputable organizations.