In the midst of so much devastation and startlingly sad images from the damage that Harvey has done, many of us are asking how we can help. To feel helpless at a time like this is a very common feeling and taking action helps to ease the anxiety we are all feeling. But, unfortunately, as the Better Business Bureau is now warning consumers, there are a lot of scammers out there who will capitalize on this disaster and some of them will get away with it. So, to help you navigate the landscape of giving we’ve put together a list of tips to refer to when you’re considering how to help.
- Give blood. Blood has an expiration date of 42 days, so supplies are needed on an ongoing basis and most blood banks only have about a week’s supply on hand. A disaster like Harvey is a good reminder of that, so planning to give later also makes a big difference. Here in the Denver Metro area, Bonfils is part of a 28 state network that can share blood with other centers in need so you could be helping someone across the street or across the country.
- Donate online vs. via text message. While it is easy to send a text for donation, it does delay the amount of time it takes to get your donation to the charity. Donating on the charity’s website is the best way to get them money fast.
- Avoid crowdfunding campaigns, unless you have personal knowledge of the recipient and the platform raising money. 1) This is an easy place to set up a fake victim account. 2) Many of these platforms can take as much as 30% of your donation in administrative fees.
- Make sure the charity you are donating to has a mission related to helping in disaster and recovery. Some charities could be setting up Harvey Funds with good intentions, but if they lack experience in executing in these types of situations, then some of your money will be wasted while they figure that out.
- Texas is in it for the long haul. While you should give when you are inspired to do so, remember that this recovery will take years and Texans will need our help over the long term. If you have access to a large network, consider forming a committee to work on a longer-term fundraising initiative that you can take some time to plan strategically once the flood waters have receded and the city begins to understand the impact and most urgent needs.
- Cash is king. Relief organizations’ biggest need right now is money. Don’t send unsolicited items. They don’t have the time and resources to handle logistics of material donations such as clothing at this time. There may be a time in the future when this is needed, but right now the best way to help is with a donation of money.
- Provide professional services. Imagine what you would need if you literally walked out of your house with just the clothes on your back – legal advice, insurance help, housing, tax filing, credit applications, trauma counseling. If you provide a service that victims need, offer it pro bono for a specified amount of hours per week. Many of these services can be provided from a distance. Even if you can only help one family navigate this disaster with the hours you can afford to spare, you will make a significant impact on that family.
Finally, think outside the box. There are smaller organizations making a big impact and they need your help, we are recommending the following organizations as we know their work is reputable and they are currently on the ground in Texas.
Principally focused on providing disaster relief, our team regularly responds to national emergencies and natural disasters at home and abroad. In addition to emergency response, we make use of our equipment skills and volunteers by meeting existing needs within urban communities, establishing permanent kitchens in places with ongoing hardship, and installing water purification systems for communities without access to potable water.
The Dallas Foundation established a fund to support recovery efforts following landfall of the category 4 hurricane along Texas’ Gulf Coast. Donations to the fund will be directed to nonprofit organizations providing aid to victims of the storm. The Dallas Foundation’s Community Philanthropy team will work closely with our nonprofit partners and our foundation colleagues along the Texas Coast to identify the greatest needs.
NTFB has worked over the past several days to provide MREs, snacks and beverages to evacuees at local shelters as part of our role with the Mass Care Task Force (including partners Red Cross DFW, The Salvation Army DFW, and Volunteer Now). When the mega-shelter opens on Tuesday, August 29, we will have additional food and beverage resources available onsite. Additionally, our Social Services team is helping evacuees apply for Disaster-SNAP benefits to receive food assistance. We are also preparing for an influx in need across our service area through our Partner Agencies, as we know many North Texans opened their own homes to family and friends impacted by the hurricane and may be stretching their resources thin. Our team is working hard to ensure that everyone who needs food assistance has it available.
Little ones are the most vulnerable in this crisis and having access to diapers is a basic and urgent need of families. Established by ten local United Methodist Churches in San Antonio, Texas, since 1997 the Texas Diaper Bank has been working to meet the basic needs of vulnerable babies, children with disabilities and seniors. The organization’s mission of: to address the diaper gap and its impact on individuals in crisis has led the organization to provide a continuum of basic needs services combined with educational opportunities that strengthen a family’s self-reliance.
Open your heart and take this opportunity to show the world that when it counts Americans are united, not divided, in our ability and desire to give.
Lisa McAlister is Principal at With Good Cause, Inc.. She works with companies to form meaningful partnerships with non-profits and increase their impact. If you need help creating a plan for your business, she can be contacted at 303-931-0955.