BBB Tip: When Disaster Strikes, Crowdfunding Responds


Recent natural disasters – Tropical Storm Henri in the northeastern United States, floods in Tennessee, wildfires in the west – as well as the plight of Afghan refugees have resulted in numerous online fundraising campaigns. Crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe and IndieGoGo (both BBB Accredited Businesses) are used to help share the stories of individuals, families, and communities in need and to solicit funds from generous donors.

Unfortunately, these situations also provide an opportunity for scammers to set up fundraising accounts to misdirect funds intended for victims and those recovering from disasters. BBB is warning would-be donors to be cautious when giving on crowdfunding sites, particularly if they do not know the individuals involved.

GoFundMe reached out to BBB to share information on how to determine if a fundraiser is legitimate and about their centralized hub for identifying verified fundraisers related to the storm. IndieGogo also has information on how to evaluate a campaign.

Tips for Donors 

Here are tips donors can take to protect themselves and contributions made during relief efforts:

  1. Review the fundraiser page: does the fundraiser have a clear title, image, and story?
  2. Understand the use of funds: What is the purpose of the fundraiser and is the organizer transparent about how funds will be used?
  3. Check the beneficiary connection: how is the organizer related to the recipient of the funds?
  4. Look at the comments and donations: Are direct family, friends or community members making donations and leaving supportive comments?

For more information:

BBB tips on charitable giving after a natural disaster and what to know before giving on a crowdfunding site.


Information courtesy of the Better Business Bureau