How to Help after Natural Disasters

Written by Becky Fitzpatrick, Digital Marketing Associate

When disasters strike, people around the globe want to step up and help. While dropping cash on a plane ticket and flying to the region shows great compassion, many countries only allow certain professional relief aid groups to enter after major disasters. Basically – if you aren’t on the list, you're not getting in. And while donated items, like blankets, food, and clothing, can be crucial for local nonprofits, sending them overseas make them subject to serious delays as they hit border control and transportation postponements. That’s why most of us turn to easier methods of helping like promoting the cause to friends and family, and donating to relief organizations already on the ground. Luckily, the easiest way to give aid is also the most needed.

Monetary donations to relief agencies make the greatest amount of good. These contributions allow professional aid workers who are trained in disaster relief to purchase exactly what is needed near the disaster site. In the wake of these devastating disasters, thousands of organizations usually step up and begin asking for donations. While it’s important that everyone work together to raise money during these times of need, the sheer number of organizations appealing for funds can be overwhelming – especially for a first time donor.

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We have all seen the abundant pleas for aid online and on our phones. We saw it with the 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2012 Hurricane Sandy, 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, 2014 Ebola outbreak…and now with the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. Facebook newsfeeds are flooded with hard asks for users to give $10 to a specific organization or to disaster relief as a whole. This type of fundraising is great because it’s easy for users to give, but it’s important to do your research and see where your money is actually going. Big businesses like Paypal, Facebook, and Air B+B partner with very specific nonprofits, and not all of these nonprofits are actively participating in delivering necessary aid after disasters.screen-shot-2014-11-06-at-10-34-34-am

Each disaster is different, so do your research and find out what is really needed for each region. While it may seem like a good idea to donate to a charity working to bring sanitation to water sources, that area may be in more immediate need of medical supplies or shelter.

According to Vijaya Ramachandran, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, "the aid that comes in within the first weeks and even months is of a life-saving nature…outside help is really important." Yesterday, a 7.3 earthquake shook Nepal just weeks after a 7.8 temblor killed 8,000 people. Giving today will help deliver instant aid to survivors who need immediate medical treatment, shelter, and food. Giving in 3 months will help with the aftereffects like disease, sanitation, and homelessness. And giving in a year could help the beginning of a rebuilding process as towns and cities reconstruct. Whether it’s donating today to get through the week or donating later to help with the after effects, there is never a wrong time to give. Just make sure you do your research to make sure your money is going to most useful organization.

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