In times of crisis, many individuals find themselves wondering how they can help those affected. Depending on the nature of the disaster (human-made or natural), there are often a variety of organizations committed to helping those affected. Before you give to an organization responding, make sure you're following these tips to ensure that your donation will go to the cause itself and help those affected.
React with intention
Your gift, especially in the wake of a disaster, is powerful. That's why it's important to react (a.k.a give) with intention. Take a few minutes before you give to make sure the organization you plan to support is reputable and has a dedicated response effort.
Charity Navigator publishes Give Now lists of highly rated charities that have confirmed they're providing disaster relief, as well as countless other tips for better giving. And our charity search function is a great tool to confirm that a charity is registered with the IRS.
Do the most good (Hint: Give money)
Following a disaster, it's easy to see pictures or footage from the affected areas and want to give clothing and blankets to keep people clean and warm or food to feed the hungry. But, in reality, money is the most effective gift. A monetary donation allows the charities working on the ground to quickly purchase the supplies they need to address the ever-changing needs of those affected.
Consider the long-term
Making a gift in the short term is important for addressing immediate needs like food, clothing, shelter, and medical relief. Many organizations see a drastic influx of resources in the aftermath of a disaster that begins to taper off in a few weeks. However, recovery efforts after a disaster can take many months and, in most cases, years.
Consider becoming a partner in the recovery work. Check-in with the organization you choose to support in a few months to find out how their needs have changed and how you can continue to support them. Key tip: A recurring monthly donation really makes a big impact over time.
Give to an established charity
Oftentimes, crises of large scale enable certain individuals to take advantage of your generosity and pocket your donation for their own personal benefit. Do your research to find a charity with a proven track record of success. Look to see if the organization you're giving to is a registered public 501(c)(3).
Verifying crowdfunding campaigns
When a plea for help crosses your social feed attached to a crowdfunding campaign, consider where you'd like your donation to go. If you know the person who has created the crowdfunding campaign or online fundraiser, or if the creator is a friend-of-a-friend, you are more likely to know where the funds are going and can trust your relationship with the person holding the fundraiser. Charity Navigator recommends donating to online fundraisers created by individuals with one degree of separation unless the fundraiser was created by a registered public 501(c)(3) organization.