Tips for 'smart donating' during times of need

Photos and video showing the devastating aftermath of natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes often inspire people to want to help those in need by sending supplies to the impacted areas. However, experts advise that before heading to the store, people should check with a reputable nonprofit relief organization for their preferred types of donations.

While some may accept articles of clothing or food, most will say that monetary donations are the most efficient way to help after a disaster. Disaster response organizations will use the financial resources to directly address the specific needs of an impacted area, which will likely need billions of dollars to recover from the damage. Donations from local and national charities can make a difference.

Finding a reputable organization can, at times, get complicated. Most of the information a donor needs to know can be found on an organization's website. A few factors to consider include the following:

  • Know how much of the donation will be sent directly to the impacted area versus going toward the charity's administrative costs.
  • Consider whether this is the best organization to support this specific cause.
  • Read the fine print when donating (particularly if donating through a text message) to ensure that your money is going to a legitimate source.
  • Research how/where your donation will be used to aid in relief efforts (i.e., supplies, medical needs, water, etc.).

There are various tools and websites available to aid people in making smart philanthropic choices. Search terms such as "hurricane charity evaluation" could be a good place to start. There are also nonprofits to monitor the nonprofits. For example, Charity Navigator offers tips for donors, a list of charity rankings, and tips for avoiding online scams.

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Posted in News+Info