Whenever a natural disaster strikes, many of us ask how we can help, whether in the form of cash or donations of cleaning supplies or canned goods. Giving is good. But giving to a good charity that knows how to get the help to victims quickly is even better. The Better Business Bureau and Charity Navigator are offering advice on how to donate, and which groups are best prepared to distribute your donation. And despite all the new high tech ways to donate, from crowdsourcing to charity apps, an oldie might be your best bet at first.
Easiest donation place: American Red Cross
The American Red Cross may be the charity your mom, dad, and grandfather gave too, but it's still the go-to charity in times of crisis. It has the staff, trucks, and logistics to get help where it is needed quickly. The Red Cross is the easiest charity to donate to in a time like this. To contribute to the Red Cross, you can simply text the word HARVEY to 90999 on your cellphone. Or visit their website, RedCross.org, to donate by credit card. You will automatically give $10 to hurricane victims, and a $10 charge will be added to your phone bill this month. It is that simple. If you visit Apple's website, you will find an easy way to donate to the Red Cross using your Apple account.
Other charities taking donations
Some top rated, legitimate charities, according to Charity Navigator,include:
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
Set up by the top rated Charity Global Giving.
Catholic Charities of USA
With a similar mission to the Red Cross, contact www.helpsalvationarmy.
The SPCA of Texas is putting out a call for homes to take in lost pets from the storm at SPCA.org. The charity review site, Charity Navigator, lists a number of other good charities accepting money and goods.
Beware crowdsourcing requests
Crowdsourcing for funds is all the rage these days, thanks to sites likeGoFundMe. GoFundMe has set up an entire Hurricane Harvey section, and here is where you need to use caution. While most of the requests are legitimate appeals for money, be advised that unscrupulous people have been known to fake illness and problems in order to get money. Also be aware that personal appeals for money on crowdsourcing sites typically are not tax deductible, unlike the American Red Cross and Salvation Army,
Beware unsolicited requests for money
The Better Business Bureau, meantime, urges you to be careful of unsolicited phone calls, emails, or Facebook requests for help (even if it is a post shared by one of your Facebook friends). While many of them may be will-intentioned, you just don't know where your money is going. Even someone who "plans" to send the money to victims may forget to do so. Along those lines, the BBB says to never send cash through the mail, and to be careful donating through money transfer smartphone apps like Venmo and Zelle. Personal money transfers are not tax deductible, and may be untraceable if the money is lost. And the BBB says be careful of Twitter requests for help using the #Harvey hashtag, which does not guarantee anything. Your best bet is to stick with many of the good, legitimate charities, so you don't waste your money.