Charities are stepping up their donation requests in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which has devastated South Texas and on Wednesday hit southwestern Louisiana. At least 18 people have died, and countless residents are displaced from their homes.
While the urge to donate clothes and other supplies is natural, money is the quickest, most effective contribution most people can make during times of disaster, charities and philanthropy experts say. And donating directly through a website gets money to a charity faster than a text donation, even though the text might seem easier.
Here’s how to make sure you are giving in a way that matters the most.
GIVE TO ESTABLISHED RELIEF AGENCIES
GuideStar’s website has a database that lets you vet charities . You can find information on a charity’s expenses, assets and revenue, as well as its programs.
Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, also suggests looking at a charity’s website for information on how it will use donations. And look through local news reports for information on a charity’s work, or contact the local United Way and the local Community Foundation — in this case Houston’s.
It’s up to you whether to go with a local charity that might know the area better, or a national charity that has wider reach. Palmer says “both kinds of organizations have their place right now.”
TEXTING TO GIVE?
It might be tempting to make a donation through text and have the phone company charge it on your phone bill. It’s easy, and it might feel as though it’s the quickest way to get money to a charity.
But Palmer says that’s not the case, as charities have to wait for the phone companies to release the money.
The quickest way to give is to go to the charity’s website and donate directly, using a credit or debit card. That said, relief agencies will need money beyond first few days or even weeks, so if the ease of text donations appeals to you, tap away. To donate $10 to the Red Cross via text, send a text message saying “REDCROSS” to the number 90999.
Apple users in the U.S. can also donate to the American Red Cross through the company’s iTunes and app stores. Amounts range from $5 to $200, and you can’t use store credit.
Donations often pour in immediately after disaster strikes but peter out during the long recovery process. While there are a lot of immediate needs, Palmer says, “charities are going to need support on the long haul.”