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Giving in Times of Disaster

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As many of you have probably seen, the Philippines has been hit by Typhoon Haiyan and it has left a trail of destruction and calamity as the country is scrambling to get aid to its citizens.  My husband and I have been discussing it, simply astounded by the numbers given in the news, especially with the amount of people estimated to have died. During sad times like these we look at our monthly budget so we can set aside something to give to one or more of our favorite charities.

I know we’re not the only ones who are eager to help so I wanted to provide information for Couple Money readers looking to offer financial assistance and some tips on avoiding scams.

Avoiding Charity Scams

What really boils my blood is how many scam artists come out to take advantage of the outpouring of generosity. However there are things you and I can do to make sure that the money given gets to the intended destination.

  • Do not donate online unless it is the organization’s official site. Social media has made it easier to spread information, but it has also helped spread misinformation and bad links. Go ahead and go to the official sites (I’ve listed a few below) and donate directly from there.
  • Ask how much  of your donation goes directly to the cause. This is not a rude question – many charities are happy to share information on their organizations. You can also use Charity Navigator to find out how the organization handles their finances.
  • Get a receipt with the name of the charity on it. Please don’t give cash to a charity, if you’ve been scammed, it’ll be almost impossible to track. Have a receipt to help you during tax time as well.
  • If you do fall victim to a scam artist, contact the Federal Trade Commission. Call the agency toll-free at (877) FTC-HELP to report it. It could help protect others from getting scammed as well.

If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comment box below.

Where You Can Donate to Help During Disasters

This is not an exhaustive list, but the organizations below have a long history of helping those who have been hit by a natural disasters. Please check with their site to get updates on what they are doing with each disaster, as some organizations have a criteria to assess the situation before intervening.

  • OxFam – The organization’s main goals include fighting injustice and poverty around the world. They also respond to disasters as they happen globally.
  • Doctors Without Borders – Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists.
  • Red Cross – This is probably the most familiar to Couple Money readers. Red Cross is an international organization tries to tackle several goals, including disaster relief.
  • The International Rescue Committee – IRC seeks to help people rebuild after a devastating crisis.

I hope this information helps you and your family get your charitable donation to the right place. Please pass this information on to those who want to give, but don’t know where to go.

Photo Credit: HowardLake

by Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  1. This is really good advice, especially given recent circumstances. People want to give and they are really better off giving to well know organizations like the Red Cross and Medical teams International. It seems heinous that someone would try to make money off of a natural disaster but it does happen. Also I would advise people to check in with the organization they give to a month after they give. There is a huge influx of giving immediately following a disaster but that tapers off really quickly. Be committed to seeing the situation improve and give 3 months, 6 months, or a year later. The current situation in the Philippines is going to need help for a very long time.