The devastation left behind by Hurricane Harvey has left many Americans looking for a way to help. Financial advisor Brad Allen talks with Milwaukee’s WTMJ-4 about how to make sure you make the most of your donation:

There are many legitimate charities that have set up special ways to donate specifically to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Both the Red Cross and the United Way have set up ways to donate by text. The Salvation Army also has a Hurricane Harvey relief fund.

Avoiding Charity Scams

1. Investigate the Charity – You should check out charity before you donate – you want to choose one that puts as much of your dollars toward the cause as possible. A good rule of thumb is that non-profits should not be spending more than 20% of their total budget on overhead expenses.

2. Beware of Charities with Similar Name – This is a sad reality – we have seen scammers emerge after tragedies like Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Japan and the Sandy Hook school shooting. Scammers may try to use this as an opportunity to take people’s money.

3. Never Donate with Cash – Beware of anyone pressuring you to donate immediately, asking you to wire cash or offering to send a courier to pick up your donation. These are all signs of a scam. Don’t donate over the phone. Often times, there is a third party telemarketer making the call, and they may be keeping a chunk of your donation.

4. Donate by Check or Credit Card – Never pay with cash or directly through Facebook or Twitter. Write a check or pay by credit card so you’ll have documentation in case it turns out to be a scam. And make sure to get a written record, like a receipt, from the charity. It must have the name of the organization, the date of your donation and the amount.

You can research charities through:

Charity Navigator: A Guide to Intelligent Giving

Guidestar Nonprofit Directory

The Better Business Bureau and BBB Wise Giving Alliance are advising people to help as much as they can in the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, but to do so with caution and make sure their donations get to the people who need it most.