After disasters, we always recommend that donors steer clear of newly formed organizations. In fact, avoiding fly-by-night groups is our #1 tip! But in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, some well meaning donors neglected this piece of advice and gave to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation. Turns out, this group wasn’t even a registered charity! And the couple behind it has used some of the >$600,000 in donations they received from nearly 2,000 donors to pay for their own credit card debt and other personal expenses.
Thankfully, these scammers were caught and the NJ’s Attorney General and the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs has filed suit against them. But this is a clear example why donors shouldn't throw their support behind new charities that pop up after a crisis. Instead, go with established charities that provide the public with a clear description of how they’ll participate in the relief and recovery efforts. Our list of vetted charities responding to Superstorm Sandy can be found in our Hot Topics.