Find out the best ways that your efforts and donations can make an impact
Earthquakes, hurricanes, famine, and disease outbreaks are events that happen all over the globe. When disasters strike, entire communities can be devastated. At times like these, a lot of people want to help, but it’s not always clear the best way to help.
FEMA—the Federal Emergency Management Agency—is the U.S. government’s agency that is devoted to disaster relief. This agency has helped communities recover from disasters since its creation in 1979. FEMA has recommendations on some of the best ways that well-meaning people can contribute to disaster relief. Here’s what they recommend:
1. Donate money if you can
Donating money is the #1 way to help during a disaster. Money is needed for everything from medical supplies and clean water to supporting rescue workers and road crews. If you donate money to a disaster relief organization, the money can be spent for the most pressing needs. To find out more about charitable organizations and their ratings, check the Charity Navigator website.
2. Spread the word to friends and family
In addition to your own donation, you can raise more money by spreading the word to friends, coworkers, and family. If you tell them where you donated, they may be inspired to donate too.
3. Start a fundraiser in your community
Fundraisers are a great way to pool together the resources of many people in order to raise a significant amount of money toward a good cause. If you are part of a school community, a place of worship, or other community organization, you may be able to hold a fundraiser, such as a bake sale, flea market, concert, or walk-a-thon.
4. See if blood donations are needed
Sometimes there is a greater need for donated blood after a major disaster. Contact the American Red Cross near you to see if they are in need of more donors. Your blood may or may not be used for victims of a specific disaster, but in any case, it will go to help someone in need.
5. See if you can volunteer
After a major disaster, do not simply show up hoping to volunteer. You might get in the way of emergency workers. Instead, contact a relief organization and see if you have the skills that are needed on the ground. If you have building skills, for example, your skills probably won’t be needed immediately, but they could be needed weeks or months down the road. But if you are a medical professional, the organization may want your help right away.
6. Remember the victims in the coming months
People tend to donate money when the disaster is in the headlines, but as soon as the news coverage fades, the donations start to slow down too. To help during the entire recovery process, it’s a great idea to set up a monthly giving plan with a disaster relief organization.
7. Ask before donating supplies
With many natural disasters, there can be a need for food and clean water. But before you go setting up a donation drive to collect these items, contact a disaster relief organization first to see what they need. Sometimes disaster zones can’t accept donated supplies because they have no way to distribute them, and the donations end up getting in the way of progress. That’s why it’s important to ask first.
The outpouring of support after natural disasters is so inspiring. We hope this article has helped you understand the best ways that you can help. Every little bit you can give is very much appreciated!