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How to donate wisely to Uvalde relief efforts

Texans have big hearts and want to help the families in Uvalde. Make sure your donation has the most impact.

SAN ANTONIO — Many in Uvalde are experiencing some unexpected, very expensive costs. For some it will be funerals for a loved one. Others will have major medical bills. Make sure your money goes where it is needed and not to schemers who will try to take advantage of your generosity with these tips:

Find out how donations will be used.

 Avoid vague appeals for money.

“It’s going to be used for funeral expenses or medical costs. Those are the terms that you really want to look for in a situation like this, instead of something that’s saying this money is going to go to help the family,” said Katie Galan of the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Be careful when using crowdfunding.

Some crowdfunding sites vet fundraisers, others do not. GoFundMe said to look for its page that has verified fundraisers for Uvalde.

“We have gone through the process of looking at key information on the fundraiser, such as the identity of the organizer, who they’re raising for, the organizer’s relationship to the recipient of funds, as well as how they will be used,” said Leigh Lehman of GoFundMe. “Our Trust and Safety Team has secured it and cleared it. They then get added to that centralized hub.”

A red flag on crowdfunding sites is if there is more than one fundraiser for the same person.

“Typically, there’s going to be one official page for the victim,” Galan said. “Look for that wording that they are the official page. A lot of times people are going to come out and say we’re a friend of the victim, we’re family of the victim. Well, who are you? What’s your name? What’s your relationship to them?”

GoFundMe said it holds all funds collected until a fundraiser is verified. The funds go directly to the recipient and not the organizer. There is also a GoFundMe Guarantee to protect donors.

“What that certifies is in a very rare instance, when something isn’t right with a fundraiser, donors will be eligible for a full refund for their donation,” Lehman said.

If donors question a fundraiser, they can use the “contact” button to get more information.

“Ask anything you want,” Lehman said. “After that time, if you still have additional questions, you can click on what is a 'report a fundraiser' flag. What that does is send an immediate notification to a member of our Trust and Safety Team. We’ll take a closer look. If after we’ve gone through that process, we’ll take action as needed, which sometimes is either removal of the fundraiser, or we may reach out to the fundraiser organizer and ask for more information, or it will go ahead and get cleared to be verified.”

Stick with established charities.

“The problem with newly founded organizations is not that they don’t necessarily have good intentions,” Galan said. “Most likely they do, but they don’t have the experience to get the resources to the people that need it right away. Stay with organizations that already have experience helping during times like this, during times of tragedy or disaster.”

Never click on unsolicited links sent to you for fundraisers.

The links may take you to a look-alike website that asks for personal or financial information or may download malware onto your device.

“There’s a lot of risk that comes with that,” Galan said. “Instead of clicking on those links, we encourage you to go to that organization’s website independently."

GoFundMe said $3 million was raised for Uvalde.

KENS 5 also has a list of charities helping Uvalde.  

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