The recent hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires have disrupted thousands of people’s lives around the world. These storms have destroyed homes, displaced families and forced the victims to begin rebuilding their lives.
Naturally, many people rush to send whatever they have on hand to help, like canned food and clothing. One of the best ways to help the victims after a disaster is by donating money. Here’s how to make the most of your donation:
Material Goods are Overwhelming
Storms have ravaged Puerto Rico, but the massive influx of material donations is causing another major headache for volunteers. Most organizations can’t handle material goods pouring in during the beginning stages of disaster relief, according to the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
Sorting and handling these items takes time and energy.
Repurpose Your Items
Sending goods to a disaster zone isn’t always the best idea. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use your stuff to help the victims. For example, you could host a garage sale or sell baked goods to raise money for charity.
Make sure you check with the charity first to verify what they need right now if you still want to send items.
Why You Should Give Money
There’s a chance that if you donate goods, they won’t get to the right areas, or that there will be an overwhelming supply of items pouring into disaster zones. Charities can purchase and transport exactly what is needed when it’s needed if you donate money instead.
Research Before You Donate
Do your homework before you donate money. Crowd-funding pages pop up all over the place following a disaster, but you don’t know exactly where that money is going or how it’ll be used. Scammers are turning to social media more and more frequently to make money, so stick to charities to ensure your money is going where it should.
Be choosy with charities, too. They’re not all equal. There are groups that publish lists and rankings of top charities to donate to after a disaster. Here are some of the most notable ones:
Wait to Donate Money
The weeks after a disaster are when most donations come in. The victims continue to need help for months after the disaster has stopped making headlines. Consider making monthly donations to organizations that are helping over the long term.
The disasters over the past couple months have devastated thousands of people. There are countless ways to help when you’re looking to offer it. Sending money tops the list. But before you get out your checkbook, make sure those dollars are going to be put to the best possible use.
Other Ways to Help
If you don’t have the cash to donate right now, there are other ways to get involved or give back to natural disaster victims.
Natural disasters often cause an extreme amount of expensive property damage that has to be repaired over time. But other disasters, like the Las Vegas shooting earlier this month, require immediate help in the form of first responders, surgeons and blood.
People tend to line up to donate blood following a disaster that causes human injury, but this is another case where it might be better to wait weeks or months to donate. For example, the Red Cross was overwhelmed with blood donations after the Boston Marathon bombing. Its needs were met within hours. But blood shortages happen year-round, and unfortunately, blood has an expiration date. Consider donating throughout the year to help boost local supplies even a little bit. You never know who will need it, or when.
Disaster victims depend heavily on the volunteers that show up to help out. Volunteer efforts are needed for months (and often, years) after a disaster. If you want to donate your time, look into an organization like the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to find where they need help.
About Your Richest Life
Katie Brewer, CFP® and fee-only financial planner, believes everyone should have access to financial resources and coaching. Contact Katie today for more information and services offered.