red cross disaster relief

Give Smart During Disaster Relief – Guest Blogger

Technology has made it easy for people to give donations for relief following natural disasters.  When reports of floods, typhoons, hurricanes, and earthquakes makes news, there are websites available for people to easily give money.  People can even use their phones to donate money by text message.  Here is some general advice on giving after a disaster from

  1. Give cash, not goods or clothes.
    • Though giving away items makes donors feel good, shipping and sorting can be a substantial burden. Consider selling used items locally and donating the proceeds to a relief organization.
    • According to Gustafson, providing cash donations to disaster relief agencies “is one of the most compassionate things that people can do.”
  2. Support an organization that will help or get out of the way.
    • Logistics can be a major challenge in a disaster. Highly professional, experiences organizations with a preexisting presence and relationships in the affected country is more likely to be able to help where it can and stay out of the way if it can’t. A less professional organization could easily detract from the relief effort.
  3. Give proactively, not reactively
    • Don’t give to a charity just because they call or text you. Take time to find the best giving option for you and the situation.
  4. Allow your funds to be used where needed most – even if that means they are not used during THIS disaster
    • Rebuilding efforts can be very expensive and newsworthy. Many relief agencies also support other human suffering. It is not unusual for charities to use the funds from disaster fundraising to also support these lesser known human tragedies and continue their other work. It is recommended to donate to organizations with outstanding work reputation worldwide and provides support with no strings attached.
  5. Give to organizations that are transparent and accountable
    • Most relief organizations disclose very little about what activities they undertake and how they spend relief funds. In general, when a disaster strikes the recommended organizations to consider include Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and your local Red Cross.
  6. Think about less publicized suffering
    • Every day, people die from preventable and curable diseases. Their day to day suffering doesn’t usually attract the attention and dollars that disaster victims do – can day to day giving support these every day tragedies and disaster relief? Consider whether you may wish to make giving a part of your everyday life and become an effective community altruist.
    • This public service announcement on Donating Responsibly can support your decision-making around charitable giving.

By making a concrete plan, taking each disaster as a personal mission to help others, and promoting greater sensitivity and empathy in others you can bring these large events down to a human level and maintain compassion satisfaction for the role you can play in helping others.


Submitted by: Kym Halliday Clear RN


Tips for Disaster Responders,  Retrieved on 9/5/17 from

Disaster Fatigue blamed for Drop in Giving (May 19, 2008) Associated Press. Retrieved on 9/5/17 from

When Disaster Strikes Others: How Your Brain Responds (May 15, 2011) Psychology Today. Retrieved on 9/5/17 from

Best Intentions: When disaster relieve brings anything but relief (9/3/17) CBS News. Retrieved on 9/5/17 from

6 tips on disaster relief giving (August 28, 2017) GiveWellBlog. Retrieved on 9/5/17 from

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