How to make sure a Harvey charity is legitimate

- The pictures from the devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey are too heartbreaking to watch. The images seared in our minds are prompting us to give to the people we see struggling on TV. The question is: to whom? The red cross, united way, or the local food bank?

Claire Rosenzweig is the head of the Metropolitan Chapter of the Better Business Bureau. The BBB vets charities to see if your money is really going where you want it to. She said several charities are working in Texas for Texas and have that have boots on the ground, which is really important.

The need is great and the list is long. But perhaps the most recognizable group is the American Red Cross. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the Red Cross faced criticism for its handling of the donations. But with Harvey, the Red Cross was first on the ground. The American Red Cross is BBB-verified and 91 cents of every dollar is pledged to the disaster. A lot of that money coming from a newly launched text campaign.

But the problem with text campaigns is that money is sometimes held up by the phone companies. That is why the best approach is to go to the charity's website directly.

If you want to verify a charity, you can go to the BBB Wise Giving Alliance,, or you can check Charity Navigator or GuideStar. These are all comprehensive sites that vet national and local charities.

Once you decide where to donate, giving money, not supplies, is best, Rosenzweig said. Too often, getting the supplies to those in need is too tough.

This is a good rule of thumb when donating: think about what your family might need. Think about seniors, the disabled, small kids, and even pets. For example, the Texas Diaper Bank is in desperate need of help.


Click here for places to donate

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