4 Tips for Giving to Charity in a Crisis

Crises, whether they be massive pandemics or devastating natural disasters, harm so many people. To repair this harm, many turn to charitable giving to help those the crisis affects. While this impulse is a sign of the good of humanity, donors need to be careful about their giving. Here are some tips for giving to charity in a crisis to put your resources to the most good possible.

Know your goals beforehand

As a donor in a crisis, you have the capacity to meet someone in their greatest need. Don’t compromise that opportunity by being swayed by organizations’ emotional appeals and losing focus. Know what population you want to serve, and look for charities that help them specifically. When planning how to respond to a natural disaster or global health problem, think first of the most vulnerable. The homeless, the abuse victims, those with compromised health, and more can benefit greatly from your help.

Only give what the charity needs

It’s important in a disaster to give according to charity’s recommendations. If that means only giving money, send them a check or give online. But if charities know what supplies they need, then you should specifically buy to fulfill these wishes. Women’s shelters have several items they typically need, including feminine products and diapers for accompanying kids. Additionally, many places may request food or basic toiletries to get them through this tough time. If you go off-script, though, and buy what you only think an organization might need, you risk overloading them with items they already have pouring in from elsewhere.

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Vet charities properly

As always, and especially during a time of upheaval, you’ll need to vet your chosen charity closely to avoid scammers who want to take advantage of others’ generosity. There are several important questions to ask an organization before donating, including whether the IRS considers them a 501(c)(3) organization. If they aren’t, this shows you that the government does not mandate that they use their money to fund programs, meaning your donation to them may not help as many people as you’d like it to.

Stay with your cause

Another important tip for giving to charity in a crisis is to stay with your cause throughout the timeline of recovery. So many people look to fulfill short-term needs when a disaster strikes, only to evaporate when the hard work of rebuilding—however that looks—gets started months later. Your goal should be to help meet these vital short-term needs while also showing endurance by checking in with that charity in a month, a year, even three years down the line to see how their needs shift.

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