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Tips for ‘Smart Donating’ During Times of Need


Credit: iStock

In the wake of major storms such as Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas or Imelda in Texas, it can be difficult to watch coverage of the devastating aftermath. Photos and video showing destruction caused by natural disasters often inspire people to want to help those in need. However, before heading to the store, CEPAR advises people to check with a reputable nonprofit relief organization for their preferred types of donations.

While some organizations may accept articles of clothing or food, most will say 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. Communities impacted 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 sometimes can 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 if 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 and 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,” for example, could be a good place to start. There are also nonprofits to monitor the nonprofits. Charity Navigator, to name one, offers tips for donors, a list of charity rankings and suggestions for avoiding online scams. 

Read more news and information from CEPAR’s Hopkins on Alert.