We have all seen the devastation from the recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria that affected Houston, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Many of us have family, friends or acquaintances who have been affected by these storms. The need for help is extraordinary, but many of us aren’t sure how or what is the best way to assist. So today, Let’s Talk charity and the “right way” to give.
Giving is a great gesture of the heart and always appreciated in any form. These storms and other natural disasters have left many people looking for a way to start over. The overwhelming outpouring of generosity is outstanding.
“But how do I help?”
“Does my donation even make a difference?”
“Which charity should I give to?”
RESEARCH, RESEARCH and RESEARCH!
Charities have a huge responsibility to do what is right with your donation and to those they have committed to helping. Take time to find a few charities and research their programs and services section of their website. If you are looking for a charity that is currently on the ground in Houston check out Bread of Life. They are currently working with the BeyGood Houston (yup that’s right, Houston’s own Beyoncé) to get much needed supplies to people fast. In their own words they “move people from crisis back to recovery.” You can reach out to Bread of Life and adopt a family or visit myharveyneeds.org. In Florida? Please visit The Miami Foundation to see a list of reputable charities in need of supplies and volunteers.
Also consider the American Red Cross. They help with the long-term rebuilding and help the people of Texas, Florida, and elsewhere. They are the first to any major disaster and their team works diligently to help people get back on their feet. Another great charity is the National Diaper Bank Network. Diaper banks supply much-needed hygiene items to families. If you are in the Texas area and wish to volunteer at their local diaper bank, check out their Instagram page for more details.
While many charities are not currently accepting in-kind donations such as clothing, that doesn’t mean that you can’t ever give away a few quality, gently-used items. Check out soles4souls, a charity we support. They are taking supplies and have a location section so you know where to drop off your new or gently-used shoes.
Just remember that the current freeze on such donations is temporary, as processing donated items requires a lot of human-power, which is currently best utilized in other ways. These organizations will need to sort out and figure out what they can and cannot use over time.
When donating clothes, think about the area, its climate and what would be most useful. Heavy winter coats will not be the best item to donate to hot climates, like Miami. Donate those items to your local shelter or coat drive. That bridesmaid dress in neon green might not be the best choice to send to a disaster area—wait for a prom dress drive in your community. Be mindful and be fair.
Monetary donations are always appreciated, as the organizations use the funds to help others in the most efficient way possible, as well as provide supplies for volunteers.
Did you know that you can request how your funds are allocated? If you would like your money to support teens or senior citizens, all you have to do is ask! Any amount you choose to give is just right, and appreciated. Before donating money, check out Charity Navigator to see how your charity choice stacks up again the rest. On Charity Navigator you can see how the charity ranks against others, review tax filing and view their accountability and transparency performance. Know where your money is going!
When reviewing a charity’s financial statements, remember that higher staff salaries are not necessarily a bad thing. In order for nonprofits to run efficiently and achieve their goals, they need to attract the best talent (and like everyone else, non-profit employees have bills to pay and deserve to be fairly compensated for their labor.)
We want to express our profound concern for all affected by this year’s hurricanes. They are and will continue to be in our thoughts during this difficult time.