Around the world, we’ve seen disasters leaving millions of dollars of damage and entire communities without power.
In the midst of it all, many are looking to give, but some raise concerns about how much of the money they give is making it to relief efforts and how much is going to other expenses.
When disaster struck in Puerto Rico, Rachel Yohe knew she wanted to help.
“It's hard to see it, but I mean everybody needs help,” she said. "You know, we can't just quit after one disaster, we have to help everybody.”
It’s expected that it will months, maybe years, of clean up and rebuilding for the communities there. Televisions across the world were plastered with images of destruction as hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes caused destruction seemingly all at once.
Yohe, like many others, began looking for ways to give back. Her first step was research.
“That was something I did sit down and think about because we do have so many great national organizations that provide relief all over the world but, I feel like sometimes when you donate, to those organizations, you don't always know if your money is going to a specific disaster," she said.
That criticism is one heard often of larger organizations and something Charity Navigator hopes to help people figure out.
“There's a huge difference between local and international organizations. Local organizations are going to be on the ground long after the disaster has happened, they're going to be working with the community itself, they're based in the community and that's the way that they're responding,” said Sara Nason. “They understand the needs long after five years, ten years after a specific event has happened.”
However, Nason points out this doesn’t mean that large organizations don’t have their place as well.
“International organizations who are specifically committed to relief efforts, they have built out systems and infrastructure for specifically responding immediately to disasters. They have built out teams, they have built out resources, and so that's the way they operate predominantly,” said Nason. “Some are committed long after the disasters happen, but the predominant way they're responding is immediately.”
Nason says, if you want to make sure your dollar is having the best possible impact, the most important thing to do after you research is to ask questions.
“It's really continuing the way that you're talking to these organizations and making sure that just after your first donation you're following up," she said.
That’s something Yohe says she plans to do. The money she plans to raise is through an event, Party for Puerto Rico, a sit down dinner that will also have a wine pairing and silent auction with all proceeds going to United for Puerto Rico.
Yohe says while she may not be able to contribute as much as a large organization, every bit counts.
“It's not just about immediate relief,” she said. “They're getting immediate aid now but this is going to be a very long difficult process for them to rebuild and recover from.”
Nason says at the end of the day, what matters is what the donor is looking for.
“It all depends on where you want your dollar to go and that's really why we say research is so important because if you're finding a highly rated organization that has a cause that you're passionate about, who has the type of response you think is appropriate, that fits your needs and your beliefs, then at the end of the day, your donation will be used well," she said.
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