How to Help During a Natural Disaster
The feeling of helplessness during a natural disaster is hard to bear. Not in any relation of course to those being affected. The desire to want to help is strong. I think a common problem is that people (myself included) don’t often know where to start, or even where to start looking. To combat that, I wanted to compile a large list of organizations that are often on the front line after a natural disaster hits. This list includes a number of specialized organizations – such as specific to medical supplies, children, pets, etc. But the list also includes a number of organizations that fill whatever need is in a specific area at a specific time. At the end of the post, there are links to help guide you to research any charity you want to donate to which I would highly recommend!
During my research compiling this list, one of the main statements I came across multiple times was that money or volunteering was the best and fastest way to help out. The reason for this is that these organizations are on the scene, and they can determine what resources are needed ASAP. From there, they can then go and purchase those items from local businesses to help boost the local economy. Additionally, the time and effort it takes to organize deliveries of supplies is more than if the organization would just get the supplies themselves.However, some organizations do accept and look for physical items if you are interested in that. Check with specific organizations to see what items are needed.
Make it a family or local community event. Engage kids by doing a bake sale or a lemonade stand to raise money. Or a local garage sale with 100% of the proceeds being donated. The more people that can get involved to help, the better!
Babies, Kids, and Teens
- FoodAid International
- Local food banks – Call and Check First
Medicine and Medical Care
- American Red Cross
- Catholic Relief Services
- Global Giving
- Go Fund Me
- Habitat for Humanity
- International Medical Corps
- OperationBlessing International
- Relief International
- Salvation Army
- Samaritan’s Purse
- United Way
Photo credit © Ld Nature Photography
- Fostering pets – contact local pet organizations to see if any need foster homes for misplaced pets
- SPCA International
- The Humane Society of the United States
- UPS: Check with UPS – in the past, they have offered free shipping for supply-type items under 50 pounds to affected areas.
- All Hands Volunteers
- Alternative Spring Break – Through United Way, this gives college students the options to volunteer in affected areas on their spring break.
- American Red Cross
- Churches – check in with local churches to see if they are in need of volunteers
- Donate Vacation Time – Sometimes large corporations or unions will accept vacation time donations to those affected by the natural disaster
- For Hurricane Harvey, Airbnb allowed residents to post free of charge any rooms or space they had available.
- Other ways you can help locally is by contacting local hospitals, food banks, homeless shelters, and churches.
- Red Cross Interpreters: in the past, the Red Cross has requested interpreters for a 24-hour phone bank in affected areas.
- National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster works with local organizations in the affected area.
- RV Care-A-Vanners – If you have an RV and the time to spare, considering driving down to affected areas to help rebuild.
- Trusted World
- Volunteer Match – Search ‘Hurricane’ (or whatever natural disaster has occurred)
Unfortunately, during times of crisis, some people take advantage of the situation and try and scam people out of money, time or supplies. I would always recommend researching an organization before you donate. Not all organizations are slimy of course, but some may not align with your beliefs, for example. Below are links to different organizations that can help decide if a specific charity is right for you.
- Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance
- Charity Navigator
- Federal Trade Commission’s Guide to Charitable Giving
- Give Well
- IRS Charity Search
Photo Credit © Ld Nature Photography
I’m sure there are many great organizations that I missed. If there is one you absolutely love, let me know and I’ll add it to the list.