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Disasters--especially those that hit close to home--can be emotional and difficult for many people. Often, our sadness over the tragedy is coupled with a strong desire to do something to help our neighbors, whether they are next door or around the world.
Despite good intentions, donors may be overwhelmed by the variety of causes and charities requesting support. To alleviate stress and ensure your charitable dollars make the most impact, Vanguard Charitable encourages you to approach disaster relief the same way you approach all giving: strategically.
First, identify causes that are important to you. Maybe you want to provide food or shelter to victims of a tragedy, or perhaps your interests align better with helping children who can no longer go to school or the displaced elderly. Maybe you want your donations to house stranded animals or improve medical care or hygiene in flooded regions. Choose something that is important to you and your family and research which organizations support those causes best.
Second, determine who should receive your donations. Not every nonprofit is accustomed to disaster relief, and some organizations are better prepared to receive and use your charitable dollars for immediate relief. When disaster strikes abroad, donors may feel compelled to gift overseas. However, this can be a tenuous process that takes weeks or months to finalize. A quicker solution is to donate to a charity that has worked in the affected region and has experience supporting disaster relief, like the American Red Cross.
Faith-based organizations often are the first to offer both physical and emotional support to disaster victims, since they are already located in affected communities. While the services offered by religious organizations should not be overlooked, extra care must be taken to ensure earmarked donations are used only for relief efforts.
Third, consider what type of relief is needed--and when.
|Immediate||In the wake of a tragedy, basic needs must be met. Organizations will provide food, shelter, medical resources, and other emergency care to those who need it most.|
|Repair & rebuild||Disasters can leave property and communities damaged, requiring expensive cleanup and building initiatives.|
|Social services||Victims deeply impacted by the disaster may need emotional support through counseling and mental health care. Employment, education, and financial support may also be needed.|
|Long term||Support for disaster relief often wanes as media coverage subsides. However, donors can choose to stay informed and address needs that arise over time. Long term giving, in the months or years after a disaster, is one of the most effective ways to help after a disaster.|
|Preventative||Assist areas routinely affected by natural disasters in improving policies and infrastructure so they are better prepared for the future. For example, Vanguard Charitable offers a Sustainable Disaster Recovery Fund that seeks to create sustainable solutions for regions impacted by major disasters. Donating now also gives organizations an immediate fund to pull from if disaster does strike.|
More tips on how best to support disaster relief efforts