COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine last week offered tips and resources to Ohioans looking to assist the humanitarian crisis occurring because of Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine.
“Seeing images of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing their homes is heartbreaking; and many Ohioans are looking for ways to help,” said Governor DeWine. “Unfortunately, scammers are quick to exploit people’s generosity and goodwill. Just a few extra minutes of research can help ensure contributions will be used for their intended purpose. Ohioans stand with the people of Ukraine and all of the freedom-loving people of the world and condemn this invasion and the suffering it has caused.”
To aid Ohioans looking to donate funds to help Ukrainian refugees, a group of organizations with positive reputations are included below; however, the list is not inclusive. Those looking to donate should reach out directly to individual organizations. The Ohio Governor’s Office is not coordinating donations.
The listing of charities below is not an endorsement, and they are not affiliated in any way with the Ohio Governor’s office, officials noted in a press release last week:
•Fund to Aid Ukraine: Established in 1990 the fund has helped provide medical supplies to Ukraine, support refugees, assist orphanages, and help victims of Chernobyl.
•Direct Relief: Direct Relief works in the U.S. and internationally to equip doctors and nurses with life-saving medical resources to care for the world’s most vulnerable people.
•Mercy Corps: This organization is assessing humanitarian needs in Ukraine and the region. They anticipate providing emergency cash assistance and supporting local organizations.
•International Medical Corps: The group is expanding its relief efforts in Ukraine and in neighboring countries, to provide medical, mental health and protection services to the millions of people affected by the conflict, including refugees.
•Save the Children: Donations to Save the Children can help provide children and families with immediate aid, such as food, water, hygiene kits, psychosocial support, and cash assistance.
•Ukrainian Red Cross, International Committee for the Red Cross, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: These Red Cross organizations are working together to relieve the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and neighboring countries where refugees are fleeing.
To help ensure donations are used as intended, donors should check requests before contributing. For example:
•Don’t rely on a group’s name alone. Many sham charities have real-sounding names.
•Don’t assume a charity recommendation you find online has been vetted, even if it’s posted by someone you know. Check it out yourself.
•Research charities using the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and other resources.
•Check an organization’s IRS Form 990, which is typically available on GuideStar, to find program descriptions, expenses, and other details.
•Determine how you can best help. For example, a charity may prefer monetary donations rather than donated goods. Similarly, if you want to set up a fundraiser for a specific group, contact the organization in advance to determine how you can properly collect donations.
•Be aware that some calls come from for-profit companies that are paid to collect donations. If you ask, these professional solicitors must tell you how much of your donation will go to the charity. They also are required to identify themselves.
When evaluating crowdfunding or online fundraising campaigns set up to help those impacted by the conflict, keep additional considerations in mind. For example:
•Determine which campaigns are supported by those close to the tragedy and which haven’t been vetted. In some cases, the person who sets up an online fundraiser may not have permission to do so or may not use the funds as promised.
•Find out how your money will be used. For example, will it be used for a specific person or family, or will it be used for the greater community? Keep in mind that that giving money to an individual is different from donating to a charity. Your donation may not be tax deductible. Also determine whether you will be charged any fees for making the donation and what percentage of your donation will go to the cause itself.
Signs of a potential charity scam include:
•No details about how contributions will be used.
•No written information about the charity, its mission, or how it operates.
•Requests for payment to an individual, rather than an organization.
•Someone who offers to pick up donations immediately.
•Requests for donations via cash or gift card.
•Callers who ask for donations but don’t identify themselves and won’t provide written information about the cause.