NBC 5 Responds

Donating to tornado relief? Here's how to vet a charity

NBC Universal, Inc.

People impacted by the deadly weather in North Texas face a steep recovery. If you want to help, read on for simple steps to help ensure your donation gets to neighbors who need it.


If you want to help or are asked to donate, Monica Horton with the Better Business Bureau said to ask for specifics. Vague information may be a red flag.

“The appeal needs to be very clear on where the money's going and how it is going to help the people that are impacted,” said Horton.

You can read up on a charity on the BBB’s give.org.

You can also research through websites like CharityWatch, GuideStar, and Charity Navigator.

IRS.GOV has a tax-exempt organization search here. You can read a tax-exempt charity’s most recently filed tax forms.

Horton said the free tools can help you understand how a charity spends its money, how established it is and if it has experience in disaster zones.

“You we will see new charities pop up, that probably have good intentions, but the best impact for those victims is going to be with a charitable organization that is experienced in dealing with disaster,” explained Horton.


If you’re considering a crowdfunding campaign, the BBB recommends donors click to the crowdfunding website policies and procedures. Understand any transaction fees. Look for information about if the platform screens donation posts.

Following this past weekend's destructive storms, GoFundMe announced it launched this central tornado recovery hub where donors can search for fundraisers – reviewed by GoFundMe’s team.

“We have a trust and safety team that's working around the clock to review fundraisers that have been created after the tornadoes,” said Sarah Peck, GoFundMe Senior Director of Public Affairs.

Since the weekend storms, Peck said the team has added 200 Texas fundraisers to the hub and it’s team is constantly reviewing and adding more.

“It must be clear to our team who is raising the funds, what their connection is to the person that they are raising funds for, how those funds will be used,” said Peck. “Then our payment partners on the back end do not release those funds until that person's identity has been verified.”

If you see a donation request that is not in the hub yet, Peck said it may mean the team is working on its review.

Peck pointed to a giving guarantee for donations made through its platform. According to GoFundMe's published policy, donors can request a refund of donations made through GoFundMe's platform if GoFundMe determines misuse or abuse has occurred.


The BBB shared additional questions donors can ask after a tornado outbreak.

If you see a friend post about a charity on social media, the BBB said don’t assume they’ve vetted it. Do you own checking. That includes verifying that a familiar-sounding organization is the actual charity. The BBB said crook may build websites and spoof names that mimic actual charities.

Wherever you decide to give, Horton said she would tell donors to take a few moments to find out more.

“There is not going to be an overnight fix to any of the damage or any of the destruction. The charitable organizations, they're going to want your money tomorrow just as much as they want it today,” Horton said. “You do have the opportunity to do your research before giving.”

NBC 5 Responds is committed to researching your concerns and recovering your money. Our goal is to get you answers and, if possible, solutions and a resolution. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or fill out our customer complaint form.

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