How to Donate in a Crisis — the Right Way

Nepal was hit with a magnitude 7.3 earthquake this morning, following a 7.8 quake two weeks ago. Nepal has lost over 8,000 people in the two earthquakes, and the relief effort needs resources. Here’s how to make sure your money goes to the people who need it most.

donate

Give Money
In any disaster, donating MONEY for the relief effort is the best way to go. While you might have the best intentions after a disaster, you really shouldn’t hop on a plane to offer help unless you are a medical professional or a trained relief worker. Disaster zones are not equipped to deal with an influx of people, and it would actually hinder relief efforts. Similarly, hang onto your canned food, blankets, and clothing. It’s a waste of resources and cargo space to send those donations, and crowds out higher priority items. If you want to help Nepal, you should give to any of these vetted charities.

Budget Your Donation for the Long Game
A burst of charity immediately follows any disaster, but what happens three months, six months, or a year after a crisis? The public’s interest tends to die down before rebuilding is complete, and the money needed for relief dissipates. When making your donation, ask your chosen organization how long they intend to stay in the disaster area. You also might want to divide your donation over a period of six months to even a few years to keep the flow of resources moving even after the hype dies down.

Be Aware of Scams
As unconscionable as it might sound, disasters bring out con artists intent on exploiting your desire to help. You need to remain vigilant. Here’s how to avoid getting scammed:

  • Before donating, research as much detailed information about the organization. Google for any history or scams, check the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, and avoid organizations with names that are similar to reputable organizations, but don’t match exactly.
  • If someone from the organization calls you to solicit a donation, get in touch with the organization yourself to make sure they can vouch for the overture.
  • Do not donate to organizations that refuse to provide proof that your donation is deductible.
  • If the organization won’t give you information about how the donation will be used, keep walking.
  • If the organization insists on a cash donation or requests that you wire money, it’s a scam.

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