Give smart: How to help Hurricane Harvey relief efforts safely

The Federal Trade Commission has put together a list of precautions before you donate.

Scammers may send emails steering recipients to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charities.

On average, people tend to give more when they support projects benefiting individuals, said Evan Paul, with the charity tracker Guidestar.

If you would like to help donate towards the care of animals, the Humane Society is set up for taking donations on their site at https://secure.humanesociety.org. And donating directly through a website gets money to a charity faster than a text donation, even though the text might seem easier. The Red Cross asked the FBI to investigate 15 sites that mirrored its own website in the days following Katrina.

Members of United Airlines' Mileage Plus who go to the airline's fundraising page and give to the American Red Cross, AmeriCares, Airlink or Operation USA will receive between 250 and 1,000 bonus miles depending on the size of the donation.

United said it has set aside up to 3 million miles for MileagePlus members who contribute to the above organizations by September 15.

When it comes to phone calls requesting money for flood victims, the FTC recommends going slow by asking detailed information about the organization, then using the online charity watchdog tools and calling the charity back to make a donation. Also, ask if the person conducting the solicitation is a volunteer or a paid fundraiser for that charity. Pay by credit card or cut a check directly to the charity.

Consult IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, available on IRS.gov. Both the Colorado Secretary of State's Office and Attorney General's Office sent out warnings about possible scams Monday as well, and urged people to visit CheckTheCharity.com to be sure any organization seeking donations is legitimate. But donations turned over to a GoFundMe campaign don't qualify for any tax deduction, and the website takes a slice of the donation as a services fee.

Here are some charities you might consider donating to, but do not forget to always do your own research to make sure the money goes to a good cause.

IRS.gov has the tools people need to quickly and easily check the status of charitable organizations.

Take a very careful look at the name of the charity. Go an extra step by verifying whether the organization is registered with the National Association of State Charity Officials.

  • Leroy Wright