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GivingBACK

What to give

in the wake of
natural disasters
N

o region of the world is immune to
natural disasters. According to the
World Health Organization, natural
disasters, which include earthquakes, tsunamis,
floods, heat waves, and droughts, affect close to
160 million people worldwide.
Donations to relief organizations tend to spike
considerably in the wake of natural disasters.
While relief organizations can certainly use such
help, the organization Planet Aid, which works to
bring about worldwide environmental and social
progress, notes that donations during natural
disasters can prove overwhelming for emergency
responders and potentially even hamper their
efforts to help those in need.
So what are well-intentioned men and women
to do when compelled to help those affected by
natural disasters? First and foremost, prospective
donors should heed the calls of disaster relief
organizations. For example, The Salvation
Army notes that, after some disasters, they will
appeal to people and businesses for donations
of specific goods that can then be distributed to
disaster survivors. These appeals might be based
on reports from first responders who are on the
ground in areas affected by natural disasters.
First responders can see what people are most
in need of and then report those needs to relief
organizations. Donors who answer these appeals
can do a lot of good and provide immediate relief
to people whose lives have been turned upside
down.
Collection efforts in the wake of natural disasters
also should be based on needs expressed by relief
organizations. Shipping costs can be especially

high, and many relief
organizations may not
have the resources to
arrange for items to be
transported to regions
in need of relief.
The Salvation Army
notes that it is extremely
rare that clothing,
furniture and motor
vehicles are needed during a
disaster response. While such
items can still prove invaluable
to charitable organizations,
donors who want to help people
affected by natural disasters should
know that these gifts are rarely
the most effective way to lend
a hand.
When compelled to give
in the wake of a natural
disaster, cash donations
may be the most helpful
gifts donors can send.
Cash won’t incur shipping
costs or customs fees, and
relief workers can use cash
to purchase exactly what is
needed in areas affected by
disasters.
Natural disasters can strike at any
time. Learning what to give in the
wake of natural disasters can help donors
do the most good for those in need.

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