CHARLESTON W.Va. – Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant on Friday said those wanting to help West Virginians affected by flooding should consider using the secretary of state’s website to research charities before donating money and watch out for scams.
“During a crisis or natural disaster, we all feel more generous and want to find ways to help those in need,” Tennant said. “But unfortunately, there are people out there ready to take advantage of that generosity. We know the organizations in our communities that do good work — just use caution with any person or group that you don’t know as much about.”
Tennant said legitimate charities will be able to answer questions, such as whether the organization is registered with the secretary of state’s office, how the donation would be used and whether the caller is employed by the charity or by a fundraiser.
The secretary of state’s office maintains an online database of all charitable organizations licensed to solicit donations from West Virginians. Using the database, citizens can find out how much money was donated to a charity and see if the charity spent the money on administrative and program costs. The database also shows how much charities spend on fundraisers.
The database can be accessed on the secretary of state’s website at www.wvsos.com.
To report a potentially fraudulent charity, contact the secretary of state’s investigations unit at 304-558-6000.