WATCH ABOVE: As Canadians respond to the Syrian refugee crisis it’s more important your money goes to the right place and the right people. As Jayme Doll reports, it’s donors like you who play a crucial role in keeping charities accountable.
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CALGARY – Albertans have rallied in support of Syrian refugees, mourning thousands who’ve died trying to reach safety, and personally donating to the cause. Donors can play a crucial role in keeping charities accountable and making sure the money goes to where it’s needed, by carrying out a few simple checks.
The Red Cross is on the ground in Europe and the Middle East, making an international appeal for contributions. The Alberta government said it will contribute $75,000 to the Canadian Red Cross and match up to another $75,000 in donations made by Albertans to the organization.
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But how much of that money goes to refugees themselves?
The Red Cross said out of the funds raised through this appeal, a maximum of five per cent will go to fundraising costs associated with it—the rest will go directly to the people who need it.
“Our field staff right now, working, supporting this crisis, are volunteers,” said Canadian Red Cross’ Jenn McManus. “The money is going to temporary shelter, basic needs like clothing, shelter, and water, and medical assistance for the refugees coming into the region.”
Samaritan’s Purse has six people on the ground running programs and providing aid for refugees in Europe and the Middle East. Its overhead cost tops out at 10 per cent, but that covers everything from marketing to keeping the lights on in its offices. The group said 90 per cent of the money it raises goes straight to the cause.
“Money is going directly to purchase food, relief supplies, to refugees who are moving with literally the clothes on their backs,” said Brent Davis of Samaritan’s Purse.
Both organizations have earned “A plus” in MoneySense Magazine’s annual charity ranking. But there are other charities out there, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning Canadians to do their homework before donating.
“We encourage people to ask the charity: where is the money going? And do they have people on the ground?” said Leah Brownridge of the BBB.
It’s estimated there are 350,000 refugees from Syria alone currently on the move, with a long list of aid organizations trying to help. While there haven’t been any reports of scams in Calgary as of yet, the BBB says unfortunately whenever there is crisis, there will be people trying to take advantage of generosity. The group warns about donating online, especially if you’re receiving what could be spam messages. It advises Canadians check to see if charities are registered with the Canada Revenue Agency.
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With files from Erika Tucker