Here’s how to avoid sending your well-intentioned Ukraine donation to a scammer.

3 minute read

Like millions of people around the world, you’ve probably been moved by the suffering, despair and displacement of the people of Ukraine caused by Russia’s ongoing invasion. So, of course  you want to do whatever you can to help. That usually means donating money to a charity that can send necessities, supplies or services to the Ukrainian people.

But taking out your credit card to donate to the first charity you find could be a mistake. Not all charities and organizations claiming to help people in Ukraine are what they claim to be. Others can’t live up to their well-intentioned promises.

“Scammers set up fake charities that look and sound like real ones to try to get your money,” according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). “Millions of people want to support the Ukrainian people. If you’re one of them, take a moment to make sure your generosity really benefits the people and groups you intend.”

Here are seven tips for choosing a legitimate charity to help the people of Ukraine.

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Research the organization

The FTC recommends doing an online search using the name of the charitable organization and the words “scam,” “complaint” or “review.” Look up the organization or find a different one at watchdog groups such as:

Find out how funds will be spent

If you’re donating to the organizations’ website, look for information specifically on how donated money will be spent to help Ukrainians. If someone calls asking for a donation, ask how donations will be spent and then research the organization before donating.

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Find out how quickly the charity can help

You probably want your donation to benefit the Ukraine people right away. So, make sure the charity you donate to can get started immediately to help people in crisis. “See if the charity already has a presence in Ukraine,” recommends the BBB.

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Donate to a charity with disaster relief experience

The BBB suggests choosing an organization that’s experienced in disaster relief. “Experienced disaster relief charities are the best bet to help deliver aid as soon as possible,” says the BBB.  “New entrants may have difficulty in following through even if they have the best of intentions.”

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Watch out for exaggerated claims

If a charity or other organization claims that one hundred percent of all donations will be spent on relief to Ukraine, don’t be too quick to pull out your credit card. That may be a promise the charity can’t keep, according to the BBB.

While much of your donation may go directly towards helping Ukrainian people displaced or suffering in other ways due to the crisis, most charities have at least some administrative expenses for staffing, fundraising and other costs.

Before donating, ask what percentage of your donation will be used to help the Ukraine people and exactly how donations will apply.

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Avoid giving food and clothing

Your food, clothing and other hands-on donations to disaster relief in the U.S. may have made it to the people in need, but these kinds of donations to an organization helping the people of Ukraine is a different story.

It may have been feasible to load up a truck in Oklahoma to transport household sundries, clothing and other items to disaster relief victims in Louisiana or Florida, but getting essential items to a war-torn country in another part of the world is more difficult.

“Local drives to collect clothing and food to send overseas may not be practical as the logistics and timing to deliver and disperse such items will be challenging,” says the BBB. “Relief organizations are better equipped to obtain what is needed, distribute it effectively and avoid duplication of effort.”

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Check the charity’s BBB trustworthiness

Look up the charity you have in mind at the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, where you can find an evaluation report of the organization’s trustworthiness if the charity is listed The BBB also provides this list of charities soliciting donations for Ukraine relief that meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC