Top tips for donating to disaster relief

Top tips for donating to disaster relief
Donating to a disaster relief is one of the most effective ways to help a cause if you are not close enough to assist physically.
You can provide monetary donations or you could offer to send non-perishable goods to help out in times of despair. But it can be difficult to know how to donate the right type of items to the charities, especially if they are occurring in a foreign country. 

When you are donating to a crisis response charity, you should ask for their requirements. This way, you will know exactly what they are looking for. For example, if some of the child refugees from a disaster are experiencing a mental health crisis, you could send in toys and clothes to cheer them up. Or if there are animals involved in the disaster, monetary donations for their rescue are always helpful. 

Not sure where to start with your donations? Outlined below are some top tips on donating effectively to disaster relief. 

- Give money first

Most crisis response services prefer to receive cash before they receive any other goods. This is not because they do not appreciate non-perishables and clothing, it is simply because they need to get their rescue mission and crisis response team off the ground and to the location as soon as possible. 

Shipping and sorting donations can also be hugely time-consuming, taking hours away from their valuable time needed for disaster management. Your cash donation does not have to be huge, as any little bit will help, but it should take precedence over a donation of used clothes or tinned foods. Cash donations allow organisations to reach those in need quickly, more efficiently and in time to help as much as possible. 

- Don’t give everything all at once

Staggering your donation over a long period of time, or for the duration of the disaster, will help the organisation to maintain their crisis response effort. You could start by donating money once a month or even once every two weeks, in a set amount that you can afford. Look at your disposable income and decide how much you can afford to spend each month. 

Disaster victims have a longer recovery period, which means that they need continued donations to help them. If you are only able to donate goods and clothing, instead of sending everything at once, you should send packages according to updates from the organisation. This will mean that, instead of having to deal with huge piles of clothing or tinned goods at a time, the charity can send out packages as they come in, freeing up valuable manpower. 

- Give with intention

Donating in a proactive rather than reactive fashion (such as when you receive a phone call or email from a charity) will make your donation more meaningful to both yourself and the charity. Take time to think of the best way that you can donate, and give an amount of money or a package of clothes that will truly help the organisation. 

Many of us are triggered into helping a disaster after we see it on the news or if we read about it on social media. And while this is a noble gesture, you might give impulsively and end up creating more of a burden for the charity. Rather contact the organisation which is helping with a disaster relief effort and ask them what they need the most. This way you will be actively helping the cause rather than simply reacting to an impulse from seeing a news article. 

- Research the organisation that is helping

Now, this is not to say that you should be wary of every charity which contacts you, but that you should rather research who you are donating to and what their values and mission are. This will give you a better idea of how your money will be used as well as what they have achieved in previous years and disasters. 

You should also be sure that the organisation is transparent and honest with everything they do. Look on their website for information about how your donation will be used and how you can contact them with queries. Your money might not be used on a current disaster but rather saved for a less publicised one. Be sure to find out if this is the case, and do not allow this to put you off if this is what will happen. Donating to a charity is about more than feeling good, it is about doing something to help a cause. 

- Think about the long term

A once-off donation to a disaster relief or crisis response organisation can help immensely, but these funds and items will run out and the charity will need your help again. It is best to think about the long term and donate over a longer period so that you can help for the duration of the crisis.
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