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Help Ukraine by giving to legitimate charitable efforts; NW credit unions advise how to be sure

NW Credit Union Assn.

SEATAC, Wash. (KTVZ) — As the invasion of Ukraine continues, many Pacific Northwest consumers want to open up their hearts to assist with relief efforts. But sadly, scammers are trying to take advantage of people’s generosity. Here are some questions and answers to consider, from the Northwest Credit Union Association, for those seeking to assure they are contributing to legitimate causes.

We saw scammers come out of the woodwork during the pandemic. Can we assume they will try to exploit what is happening in Ukraine as well?

  • Unfortunately, yes. Organizations like the Better Business Bureau have already seen potential fraud and are warning consumers. It is heartbreaking to think that anyone would exploit this terrible situation for their own personal gain, but sadly, that is what criminals do best.

If people want to help Ukraine, what should they do?

  • Any time you give to a charity, you will need to do your homework. In this instance, it is critical to keep the following in mind:
    • First, is the charity you are giving to experienced in providing emergency relief? This is an area under invasion. You need to assess whether the charity has the capacity to deliver aid as soon as possible. Not all organizations are able to provide relief quickly.
  • Are they asking for food and clothes? If yes, think through how the organization is going to get these items overseas. Major relief organizations may have capacity, but smaller ones should give you pause.
  • Is the organization exaggerating how much of your money will be used toward relief – like 100%? Keep in mind, reputable charities have operational expenses. Any charity claiming otherwise could be misleading the public.
  • Be wary of crowdsourcing sites and appeals. Give if you personally know and trust the individual doing the appeal.
  • Do not send cash, checks, or gift cards to any charity and do not provide them your personal banking account information. If you decide you want to make a charitable donation, it’s always best to pay with a credit card. If you experience fraud, you have a better chance of recouping some of your losses if paying with a credit card. 
    • There is never any reason to provide a nonprofit organization your personal banking credentials! 
    • Always request literature from a phone solicitation. If the organization wants your money, they can send you follow-up information by mail or email. Never make a quick decision by phone.

Is there a way to check out a charity’s status?

  • The Better Business Bureau has a website that examines the standards of nonprofit organizations. It’s a great tool to check accountability. Charity Watch and Candid (formerly Guidestar) also are also resources to help you look into a charity.

Are there any organizations to keep in mind?

  • Organizations that are already on the ground assisting such as Mercy Corps  or World Vision, which are based here in the Northwest, are organizations to consider. 
  • You might also consider other well-known organizations with global reach such as Catholic Relief Services, World Kitchen UNICEF, and the International Red Cross. 
  • Check with your local credit union. As not-for-profit, member owned cooperatives, credit unions are community minded. Many are directing funds to established organizations that are assisting in Ukraine. 

If you think an organization is acting in bad faith, what should you do?

  • File a complaint with your state’s Attorney General.
  • If you feel you’ve been the victim of fraud, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Visit for more information.


The Northwest Credit Union Association is the trade association representing more than 175 not-for-profit, cooperative credit unions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and their 8.1  million consumer members. As not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions look out for their members’ financial well-being. Everyone should open their eyes to a credit union. For more information, please visit: 

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