Hurricane Relief

Know your charities.

by Lisa Talley | lisa@fresnoflyer.com

Natural disasters elicit a mix of complex emotions: horror, empathy, shock, and a deep-seated need to do something. For many of us, the options are few as we’re either unable to or unqualified to volunteer in a disaster area. Charities become the best opportunity to lend a helping hand through the means of monetary donations. However, choosing which one to donate to can feel like a daunting task. Here are some tips to help you decide on an organization.

Research your group – Take some time to read up on the organization’s history of rescue efforts. CharityWatch.org is an excellent resource for studying groups that accept donations, looking closely at how efficient that team is in using those donations directly towards the programs the donors support.  CharityNavigator.org is also a great reference site for those looking to make donations.

Local or National – Part of your research should include if that group is local to the area of the disaster. Do they have experience in that city or neighborhood? Do they employ locals or work with local organizations? Knowing their experience could help not only determine how efficiently they spend their funds, but also how efficient their rescue efforts are.

Think Twice – before sending items like clothing or blankets. These types of donations take up space and divert resources to sorting, storing or cleaning these things instead of focusing on relief efforts. Making monetary donations allow the organizations to make sure they have what they need when they need it.

Below is a list of organizations currently running disaster relief programs in Florida, Texas, and the Virgin Islands for communities affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

All Hands – a volunteer-based non-profit organization that addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. All Hands has an active response program for both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey. www.hands.org (A+ rating from CharityWatch.org)

Global Giving – largest global crowdfunding organization that disperses funds to locally-driven and vetted organizations within communities that are in need. Global Giving hosts numerous projects for crowdfunding all over the world and including disaster relief for Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Mexico Earthquake. www.globalgiving.org

Foundation Beyond Belief – Humanist charity that promotes secular volunteering and responsible charitable giving. Founded in 2009, Foundation Beyond Belief has funds set up for both Hurricane Irma and Harvey recovery. www.foundationbeyondbelief.org

Hand in Hand Hurricane Relief Fund – a benefit organized by Comic Relief, a non-profit public charity. Initially promoted as a telethon with a long list of celebrity appearances and performances, the fund is still accepting donations online via a purchase of Hand in Hand merchandise and direct donations. www.handinhand2017.com (Comic Relief has an A+ rating from CharityWatch.org)

Team Rubicon – a volunteer-driven non-profit organization that unites the skills and experiences of veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams across the country. Currently deployed in Texas and Florida. www.teamrubiconusa.org (A- rating from CharityWatch.org)

Operation Supply Drop – Primarily focused on delivering “Video Game Care Packages Downrange” to deployed troops overseas, the veteran based non-profit organization is fundraising to send their volunteers to Texas. www.fundraise.operationsupplydrop.org/campaign/osd-hurricane-harvey-impact-fund/c143538

Greater Houston Community Fund – A broad-based relief fund established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. https://ghcf.org/hurricane-relief/

Houston Humane Society – among other local animal shelters (Houston SPCA, San Antonio Humane Society) the Humane Society is taking donations in the effort to supply care and shelter for pets in the area affected by Hurricane Harvey: www.houstonhumane.org/giving

The Miami Foundation – the non-profit has put together The Hurricane Relief Fund to support recovery and rebuilding work driven by organizations on the ground, Irma Caribbean Strong Relief Fund to support relief efforts in small Caribbean island nations and territories, Irma Community Recovery Fund to support relief efforts in marginalized communities, ensuring residents in poverty have access to critical services and resources. www.miamifoundation.org/relief/

Greater Miami Jewish Federation – The Federation is accepting donations and notes that 100 percent of all contributions will be used to help Hurricane Irma victims. www.jewishmiami.org/gift/Irma

Catholic Charities – The Archdiocese of Miami is taking financial donations through its Catholic Charities to assist victims in the Florida Keys, Caribbean, and the Virgin Islands. One hundred percent of the donations will go toward Hurricane Irma relief efforts. www.ccadm.org

United Way of Miami-Dade – the non-profit organization is collecting donations through Operation Helping Hands, which works with a network of nonprofits across the country, to support relief efforts for both Hurricane Irma and Harvey. www.unitedwaymiami.org

Food for the Poor – is one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the U.S. The non-profit is accepting donations to support rushing emergency supplies to Caribbean Islands destroyed by Hurricane Irma. www.foodforthepoor.org

Bridge to Hope – provides services and programs designed to bridge the gap left by public assistance programs, to raise the quality of life and standard of living for South Florida’s vulnerable communities affected by Hurricane Irma i.e. elderly, chronically ill, homeless and low-income households. To donate visit www.bridgetohope.net

Early Learning Children’s Foundation – is committed to helping child care providers receive recovery resources so they can get back on their feet as soon as possible in the wake of widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma. www.elcfoundation.net

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

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