When a crisis occurs in your community, across the state, or the other side of the world, we often have an immediate and heartfelt desire to get out there and help in some way. Logistically, volunteering at “ground zero” is not often possible. Traveling to a location overwrought by natural or human-made disaster is often unlawful and usually unsafe. When you want to make a difference and reach out to those in need, how can you help? What should you do? What charity is best for this cause?
Logistically, volunteering at “ground zero” is not often possible. Traveling to a location overwrought by natural or human-made disaster is often unlawful and usually unsafe. When you want to make a difference and reach out to those in need, how can you help? What should you do? What charity is best for this cause?
There’s no simple answer. Every crisis is unique as is each person’s ability and preferred type of donation and with so many organizations, which one should you choose? Finding the answer to these questions can help you make smart-donations regardless of the cause:
- What charity is providing the most proceeds to those in need?
- Is this charity the safe choice?
- Do they accept money or item donations?
- Will those who are affected by the crisis need money or supplies?
Research before you give. Putting a little time into your decision will make you a more informed donor and increase the chances that your money will reach those in need and make the most difference in their recovery. Luckily, there are “charity watch groups” online that have already published tons of research and unbiased reviews. Thank goodness for the advanced search option on Charity Navigator that allows you to filter by category, keyword, size, income, and cause. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S. With a number like that, these “watch groups” help make it a lot easier to find the right charity and one you can trust! Here are few we found worth mentioning:
- Charity Navigator
- America’s Top 50 charities
- Give Well
- Charity Watch
- IRS – Investigation Tool
- Federal Trade Commission – for guides on how to protect yourself
Curious about who is giving and to what cause? This infographic breaks it down:
Source: H&R Block
Other options for giving is to align yourself with local entities such as local trusted establishments:
- School District
- Grocery Store
- Civic League
- School PTO/PTO
- Place of worship
- Or the local area affected that is in need of support
- Your Employer – This a common way to give back. For example, TMX Finance Family of Companies through #TMXCares, a company-wide fund raising initiative, supports various causes such as a Back to School Drive in cooperation with a local organization, SAFE Shelter, and recently to those who work and live in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Start your own Fundraiser!
Maybe you have a unique cause that is not covered by a larger organization? Maybe it’s related to your family or community, or it needs a grassroots effort such as a community vegetable garden fundraiser to help feed those in need near you? There are many ways you can start a fundraiser and invite your friends and followers to support it, whether for people, pets, college fund, the arts, or medical needs. Here are some popular crowdfunding websites that make it simple to start your fundraiser. There are fees associated with each donation charged to you or the donor or both, between about 5% – 15% of each donation, plus processing fees – so read the fine print. Some popular examples below:
If online fundraising is not your thing or you like a more personal approach, what about rallying up your neighbors for a bake sale, chili cook off, or community yard sale? Are there any skills amongst the group such as a registered stylist to donate manicures to raise funds? Host an event and sell tickets such as an ice cream social, Bingo, or Kid’s Carnival. If you have the time and want to donate hands on support, then take the troops to the local shelter, hospice, food bank and lend a hand!
Unique Ways to Give
There are many effective ways to raise funds for a cause that are unique and even fun. What if you want to donate what you already have or donate supplies to a cause? Different groups have different needs at different times. It’s a good idea to go to directly to the source to find out. There are tons of ways to give back. Start here and narrow it down through local organizations that supply the information you need such as
Local Crisis Support Foundations
- Blood bank
- Food bank
- Humane Society
- Community foundations
- News stations
- Government foundations
- Emergency Supply Groups (Diapers, Water, First Aid, Blankets, Coats)
These groups can be found online and through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Start by searching Google or Bing. For example, search “city, state name + blood bank.”
Major National and Recognized Groups for direction, answers, and who also accept donations:
- American Red Cross
- Salvation Army
- FEMA.gov – Federal Emergency Management Agency
- National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
- AmeriCares takes medicine and supplies to survivors.
- Matthew Ministries is distributing personal care kits, cleaning products, first aid and safety kits, diapers, paper goods and tarps.