How to help Greensboro tornado victims

For those in central North Carolina watching the devastating images of tornado-ravaged Greensboro, there are ways you can help.

Local chapters of The Salvation Army, The United Way of Greater Greensboro, and the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro are all accepting donations to help people affected by the EF2 tornado that hit Sunday.

The American Red Cross always accepts monetary donations to its Disaster Relief Fund, but that money is used for all types of disaster response.

You can call: (800) REDCROSS

Text: 9099 to make a $10 donation

Donate online:

The NCDOJ urges people who want to donate to do their homework first. The agency offers the following tips to avoid charity scams:

Decide who you want to give to. Instead of responding to solicitations to make a donation, especially from telemarketers who may keep as much as 90 percent of the money they collect, decide which charities you want to support and contact them directly.

Give to charities you know. If you've helped out as a volunteer, seen the organization's work in your community or checked out its track record, you'll have a better sense of how it operates and how your donation will help.

Check out charities. Visit to see if national charities meet the standards set by the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, and for ratings of charities by the American Institute of Philanthropy. Other good sources of information are and

Find out whether or not charities are licensed. Many charities that solicit in our state are required by law to register with the N.C. Secretary of State. You can call that office toll free at (888) 8304989 or check out a charity or fundraiser on its website.

Ask for written information. If a charity asks you for a donation, ask for the charity's name, address and telephone number. A legitimate charity will give you materials that tell you the charity's mission and what your donation will help them do.

Learn how your money will be used. Many charities hire professional fundraisers, private companies that sometimes keep a large percentage of the money raised for themselves. Ask how much of your donation will go to the worthy cause instead of to pay for fundraising, then check out the charity's financial statement from the NC Secretary of State's Office, or visit

Know the law. There's no legal minimum amount that a professional fundraiser has to give to the charity on whose behalf it raises money, or that a charity has to use for actual good works as opposed to other expenses. But professional fundraisers do have to report the percentage of money they raise that goes to charity, and charities have to report what they spend on charitable works versus expenses on their 990 tax form. You can get this information from the NC Secretary of State's Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division.

Check to see whether your donation is tax deductible. Not all contributions to nonprofits are tax deductible. Some gifts that appear to be for charity actually benefit for-profit companies. Check it out before you decide to give.

Pay by credit card or check. For security and tax record purposes, it's best to pay by credit card. If you pay by check, make it out to the charity itself, not the fundraiser.

Protect your personal information. Don't share personal financial information by email, social network or text message. If you donate online, use a secure website. Look for a lock icon and a web address that starts with "https."

NCDOJ Can Help

If you have a complaint about a charitable solicitation or believe that you were misled when you made a contribution, contact the NCDOJ for help or call toll free within North Carolina at (877) 5-NO-SCAM.
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