Questions you want to ask before you donate to charity

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:44 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - When a major disaster hits, like the deadly flooding in Kentucky, donations start rolling in immediately. But how do you know that the money you donate is being used the way you intend?

Investigative Reporter Lindsay Bramson is always watching out for your money and has some tips before you donate.

Whether it’s a tornado or a devastating flood, Tennesseans have rallied around those victims – putting up millions of dollars in donations to help rebuild homes and lives.

When WSMV4 Investigates uncovered millions of dollars in donations still sitting with some organizations, victims were shocked.

“It makes me very mad because you have all these families who have lost everything, and they have nothing to start over with,” said Megan Swaw, who has family and friends in Waverly affected by the floods last year.

And now, with the devastating floods in Kentucky, how can you make sure the money you donate gets used the way you hope it does and fast?

“You have to stop before you open your wallet, and you really have to take a little extra time to check out the charity before you donate,” said Laurie Styron, executive director of CharityWatch.

CharityWatch is a watchdog group that closely monitors how charities are spending your money.

“Make sure that the nonprofit is operating efficiently, but even an efficient nonprofit might have a different idea about where your money is best spent,” Styron said.

Styron says it’s important to ask questions, such as how much of your donation is going specifically to victims versus overhead costs.

Some groups like The United Way tell WSMV4 Investigates 100% of what you donate goes to those affected and focus on long-term recovery. But the Red Cross, for example, takes a percentage of your donation to help cover expenses for its staff. Their focus is on immediate needs. Meanwhile, The Community Foundation focuses on both short term and long term recovery.

“At the end of the day, people out there gave this money and donors gave this money for emergency aid. That’s really what it should be spent on,” Styron said.

WSMV4 Investigates has told you how the Secretary of States Office says there’s no deadline for money to be handed out.

However, they do expect it to be distributed to victims in a timely manner and spent appropriately.

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