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Give, But Give Wisely, to Katrina Relief Efforts

September 2, 2005

September 2, 2005

For immediate release

Walter Sczudlo, Vice President, Public Affairs
(800) 666-3863, ext. 455
Michael Nilsen, Director, Public Affairs
(425) 890-6628

(Alexandria , Va.) -- The Association of Fundraising Professionals ( AFP ) today warned the general public about fundraising scams involving relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina and urged donors to exercise caution when giving to any type of relief effort.

' AFP strongly encourages individuals to give as much as they can to Hurricane Katrina recovery and relief efforts,' said AFP President & CEO Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE.

'We've seen on the news that the tragedy has brought out the best in many people, but unfortunately also the worst in a few individuals,' Maehara said. 'I wouldn't be surprised to see some unscrupulous individuals try to take advantage of the generosity of others for their own profit.'

Maehara pointed to several scams that occurred in the wake of relief efforts related to both Sept. 11, 2001 , and the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunami. 'We always encourage donors to exercise caution when making a contribution, but especially now, when the need is the greatest and the potential for misrepresentation is strong,' continued Maehara.

'Giving via the phone, email or website can be legitimate and safe ways of giving, but donors should take a few steps and precautions to ensure their gift will reach its intended target:'

  • When giving at a website, make sure the site is secure and that your personal information cannot be seen or stolen by others. Make sure the website itself is legitimate; sometimes scam artists use similar but slightly different names or domain names. To check, do your own search for the real organization in or
  • When giving via the phone, obtain a phone number for the charity and call the number to ensure the number is legitimate.
  • Be aware of organizations with similar sounding names. The fictitious 'United Wayfarers' for example, sounds similar to 'United Way' but it may be a completely different charity or simply a fraudulent organization.
  • Be suspicious of callers and organizations that talk about having 'tax i.d. numbers' or other official-sounding information. Lots of organizations have 'tax i.d. numbers' but that doesn't mean they are charities or even legitimate.
  • Do not give to an organization that promises to have a driver come immediately to your home or office and pick up a check. That's usually a sure sign of fraud.
  • Report suspicious activity to your local police and/or state Attorney General's office.

More information on charitable giving and evaluating a charity can be found on the AFP website under the section called About giving.

Maehara also suggests asking if the fundraiser is a member of AFP and follows AFP 's Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice, or a similar code, and if they abide by the Donor Bill of Rights.

'The vast majority of the fundraising profession practices ethical fundraising,' stated Maehara. 'If donors know that they're working with one of these fundraisers, then they'll know that they are giving to a legitimate organization.

'The tips above are applicable to all giving, whether one is giving to disaster relief, education, research or any other issue,' continued Maehara. 'Most people will not encounter a fraudulent solicitor or organization, but we feel it's important to remind the public that it pays to be careful. Give freely, but give wisely.'

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The Association of Fundraising Professionals ( AFP ) represents 26,000 members in over 170 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs. The association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession. AFP was formerly the National Society of Fund Raising Executives (NSFRE). To learn more visit .

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