Daily Dupaco

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Disaster reflief: need for financial aid is long-lasting

Heartbreaking images of the typhoon-ravaged Philippines have been replaced by the latest news stories around the world.

But the need for aid following a large-scale disaster lingers long after the media has moved on.

“After a large disaster, the response can last for years,” says Sue Olsen, executive director of the American Red Cross of the Tri-States in Dubuque.

“We need funding all the time. We never know when disasters are going to happen,” she added. “As an organization, we hate the idea of having to be reliant on a well-publicized disaster in order to get donations. We are responding locally every day to single-family and multi-family fires.”

If you’re still looking for a way to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan – or others who have been hit by disaster – consider these tips:  

  • Be cautious when giving online. Stay away from unsolicited e-mails and social media messages that claim to be from a relief organization. If you want to give to a charity, go directly to that group’s website to avoid any potential scams, advises the Better Business Bureau.
  • Comparison shop. If you’re not sure which relief organization to give to, find out how they stack up against other groups. Charity Navigator evaluates organizations based on their financial health, accountability and transparency, and the BBB lists BBB-accredited charities that meet the 20 standards for Charity Accountability.
  • Resist the temptation to send supplies. Yes, victims are in need of basic supplies like food, water and shelter. But donating stuff is neither practical nor efficient. Donating money to a reputable relief organization will go a lot further in the recovery effort. Here’s why: No one is set up to receive goods, much less organize and distribute them to the victims, says Charity Navigator. Charities often partner with companies to acquire in-kind donations in bulk. “We’ve been told that following some of the major disasters, Joplin in particular comes to mind, tons of stuff was sent down,” Olsen says. “The secondary disaster after the disaster was all of the stuff.”

By Emily Kittle

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