Charitable Donations – Making the Most Effective Gift for Disaster Relief

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 13,891
    Andrew Hastings, Vice President of National Philanthropic Trust explains how to make the most effective gift for Natural Disaster Relief.

    Andrew Hastings: Hi, I'm Andrew Hastings, Vice President of National Philanthropic Trust. Today I'm talking about how to make the most effective gift for Natural Disaster Relief. When disasters strike Americans are incredibly generous in responding to appeals for help. Most organizations asking for donations after a disaster, are reliable charities, but unfortunately some will be organizations setup merely to pray on people's desire to help. Sometimes even prominent philanthropists and the media can be fooled. Other organizations maybe setup at the time of the disaster with the best of intensions but are not well organized and lack the critical infrastructure necessary to spend your donation well. How can you be sure which relief efforts are legitimate and deserve your support? Let's look at some ways that you can protect yourself and ensure that your charitable donation is doing what you want it to do. First, understand the specific needs of the disaster. Each disaster has distinct circumstances and needs. So be clear about the resources and expertise, this disaster demands. Second, evaluate the organization you are thinking of supporting. Does it have the expertise you have just identified? Is it in sound financial health? Does it have a proven track record of providing the kind of relief needed? Does it have people in the affected area who are providing direct relief? Be especially vary of new organizations with little or no history in providing disaster assistance, if in doubt, gift to a proven familiar charity.

    Third, be vary of potential scams. Disasters create an opportunity for unethical people to take advantage of others. Here are few red flags to watch for. Did you get an email asking for money? Not all email requests are scams but many scams come in the form of an email. You can have both your contribution and your identity stolen so never donate by clicking on a link in an email appeal. Instead, go to directly to the organization's official website by entering its address yourself. Did you get a phone call asking for money? No matter how legitimate the caller sounds, don't make a gift over the phone in response to a call you receive. Either call the official number for the organization or make a secure online donation through the organization's official webpage. Have you ever been asked to make a gift through a social media site or by texting via your cell phone? These have become very powerful and positive ways to generate many gifts quickly, but as with any gift be sure you are confident about both the identity and the capability of the receiving organization. Four, make sure you are making your gift in the most appropriate form. Typically, that means cash, check or credit card. Unless the organization has been specifically requested an in-kind donations such as clothing or food. Too often such gifts can overwhelm an agency, whereas, with cash it can acquire the exact type and quantity of resources and expertise it needs most. And finally, consider the timing or your gift and its impact. Do you want you address immediate disaster needs or long term needs, such as healthcare, education or care for orphans. You will have a different impact depending on where and when you make your gift. So that's how you make the most effective gift for disaster relief.