From Fires to Hurricanes: How to Give

It seems there has been no shortage of devastating disasters hitting our nation recently.

Yesterday the house of some good friends of ours living in the U.S. Virgin Islands was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. They are doing OK, but it really got me looking at options for doing what little I can to help.

If you’re like me, you want to know the money you give is being used responsibly and to go to the cause for which you designated it. I don’t want to donate to fire victims so the CEO of a non-profit can install a new pool at his home. Still, I realize there are some major costs associated with operating a non-profit. Advertising alone can cost a pretty penny and is critical to effective non-profit campaigns.

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(Image from newyorktimes.com)

When doing your research, look at a non-profit’s Cost of Impact, essentially their ROI. There are some unbiased websites out there that rank the effectiveness of non-profits. GuideStar is one of the most robust and is easy to use.

The American Red Cross receives a platinum GuideStar rating and makes it simple to give anything from $10 to $1,000 online.

The United Way is a good option because  you can designate a specific community to which you want to donate. Having spent a brief period of time in the non-profit fundraising sector, I can tell you The United Way does not spend dollars willy nilly. There is careful consideration taken in regards to financial stewardship.

As annoying as it is to be asked in the store checkout lane if you “want to donate a dollar to (insert charity name here),” what’s the harm in adding an extra dollar to your bill when you’re swiping your card? Some chains like Target and Walgreens give 100% of those donations to the cause for which they’re collecting at that time.

So I understand there is some skepticism surrounding charitable giving, but I hope that won’t stop you completely from helping when and where you can. There are still a lot of good people and organizations out there doing great things. Do something.

If you can’t give financially, considering donating blood or giving your time. The American Red Cross also offers tools to search for blood drives and volunteer opportunities.

If you have other ideas for the most effective ways to help out our fellow man (and woman and child) please comment here.

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