Better Business Bureau warns of fundraisers through social media sites

Posted at 11:53 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 23:53:57-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- A Facebook post is making the rounds warning people about recurring and hidden fees when it comes to those fundraisers on the social media site.

It's become very common to see people asking for donations on Facebook for their birthday, or just requesting you donate to different charities, but there’s some things you should know before you give up any of your money.

The warning was prompted by a woman's Facebook post claiming her $50 donation to an online charity was automatically set to recurring, meaning she'd be charged $600 to her bank account without her knowing. She didn't notice the charges until she checked her bank statement. She also didn't know about some of the hidden fees associated with the gift.

"On Facebook there is a fee for those type of donations if it’s going to go to somebody’s personal cause or something that they need personally," said Raechel MacQueen, Foundation Manager with the Better Business Bureau.

MacQueen recommends doing your research before donating. Payments made to personal fundraisers charge you an additional 2.6% plus 30 cents in processing fees and taxes, but there are no fees when donating to charitable organizations.

"Make sure you know if there’s any hidden fees, if the payment is going to be a recurring payment, on Facebook you can check within your profile, there’s a link to view payments you’ve made through Facebook and if they’re set up to be recurring," said MacQueen.

The same thing goes for websites like GoFundMe or YouCaring. Make sure you know who’s collecting the money and the website is secure before putting in your financial information.

"On top of your Internet browser, is there a lock next to the web address before you put in your contact information or your credit card information? If that lock is missing then you might be on an unsecure website which kind of puts your information at risk," said MacQueen.

MacQueen recommends asking some questions before donating to a charity or personal fundraiser. She recommends you don’t donate to personal fundraisers unless you know the people and the cause it’s going towards, also check to see if the charities meet the Better Business Bureau’s standards.

"Take the time to think about it, do your research on the organization, you can always go to or through the Wise Giving Alliance through the Better Business Bureau," said MacQueen. "Look up the nonprofit, see if they meet our standards for charity accountability, you can look on the charity’s website, see what programming they have, look into their financials if you’re comfortable and see what part of your donation is going to go to the programming.”

MacQueen suggests to look into what percentage a charity says is going towards that cause: a 100% proceeds statement should raise some red flags, since most charities will have some sort of overhead.

If you have any questions, visit the Better Business Bureau website.