Houston relief efforts: How to vet charities before you give

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - So many Houstonians are donating time, money, food and supplies to families forced from their homes. Others want to give, but you might be hesitant because you want to make sure your money is going to the people who need it most.

Never give money to an organization or charity that calls you asking for money. Most legitimate charities do not cold call people to drum up money. If you hear about a charity you'd like to support you can look in a couple of places to background them.

1. IRS.gov: Go to IRS website and click on the "charities and nonprofits" to check out the exempt organizations. You can look up any charity here to find out if your donation is tax exempt - that will assure you the charity is a 501 c-3.

2. Give.org: The Better Business Bureau runs this website to help you search for legitimate websites. You can see the BBB's full report about how it feels the charity stacks up in the terms of how much it gives to the cause... even how much the CEO of each charity makes each year.

3. CharityNavigator.org: This site gives a ton of information about each charity and then assigns a score with 100 being perfect.

There are a lot of charities collecting donations right now. Just ask questions before you give. KPRC is helping the Red Cross raise money right now and many people have asked how much is going to the victims. Ninety-one cents of every dollar you give to the Red Cross goes to the mission. The mission is providing food, shelter, cots and blankets.

You can also donate to the city's Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund set up by Mayor Sylvester Turner. Here is more information.

Houston Texans star JJ Watt has also launched an effort to give back to Houston.

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