edit 27 April 2015:
For Disaster donations, please indicate "Greatest Need"
Because there will likely be a generous outpouring of funds as long as the recent Nepalese earthquake and multiple aftershocks are in the headlines, we will be indicating "greatest need" on our donation. A reputable and experienced organization knows how to determine where the moneys can be used best. In every likelihood, the donation will go to Nepal right now. But there are several other areas in the world where disaster has struck. It may be that because of the public's awareness of the Nepalese situation, there will be a surplus of funds for Nepal and hardly any for other disaster-struck areas that are not being broadcast on all news networks. (According to reliefweb.org, the UN has indicated that the Central African Republic is at risk of becoming the "largest forgotten humanitarian crisis of our time".)
Here are some of the organizations that are already working in most areas of the world. They can use your help.
- Red Cross (Canada) http://www.redcross.ca/
- International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) http://www.ifrc.org/
- MÃ©decins Sans FrontiÃ¨res (International) http://www.msf.org/msfinternational/donations/
- World Vision: http://www.wvi.org/
- Mennonite Central Committee (MCC Canada): http://mcccanada.ca/
ReliefWeb wrote: Nepal: Earthquake - Apr 2015
Chile: Volcano Calbuco - Apr 2015
Kazakhstan: Flash Floods - Apr 2015
Somalia: Floods - Apr 2015
Haiti: Floods - Apr 2015
Paraguay: Severe Local Storm - Apr 2015
Niger: Meningitis and Measles Outbreaks - Apr 2015
- ReliefWeb, Latest Disasters/Alerts (http://reliefweb.int/disasters)
And that is just for April!
So, how do we decide which is the best place to send our donations? If you're uncertain, consult Saundra Schimmelpfennig's handy list of "DOs and DON'Ts of Disaster Donations" that I first saw shortly after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Here again is an excerpt:
Saundra Schimmelpfennig wrote: Do determine if the country is accepting international assistance
[...] [J]ust because there has been a disaster does not mean that the local government and local aid organizations are not capable of reaching and helping those in need. Before sending your donation find out what, if any, assistance the government is allowing. Check to see if the aid organization you're considering donating to is offering that same type of assistance.
Do look at a variety of nonprofits before giving
Look for organizations that were operating in the country before the disaster, they will be able to respond quicker and know the local culture, politics, and needs better. Giving to local organizations is great, unfortunately they can be difficult to find and may not have a website or if they do it may not be in English. [...]
Do look for organizations with prior experience and expertise
[...] There is a steep learning curve when nonprofits move out of their normal area of work, this may lead to mistakes and wasted money. Make sure the organization has prior experience in their proposed projects. [...]
Don't earmark funds
An organization on the ground has a far better idea of what is needed the most than someone who lives half the world away. Earmarking funds may force an organization to spend money where it's not needed and keep it from funding the projects that are needed the most. [...]
Do ensure that the agency is legitimate before giving
[...] [V]erify that the nonprofit is real before giving. Google the exactname â€“ be careful that they haven't used a name that is almost identical to a well known charity. [...] Donate only through the organization's website to ensure you aren't giving money to someone sending out a sham email or creating a fake facebook page. [...]
Don't take up a collection of goods to send over
[...] Donated goods can clog ports and prevent more critical relief items from getting through. [...] Please do not take up collections of medicine, clothing, baby formula, or food for shipment, or show up on your own to hand out money or goods. Although well intentioned, this can actually make the situation worse [...]
- Saundra Schimmelpfennig, "A Donor's Guide to Giving After a Disaster" https://philanthropy.com/article/A-Dono ... ing/227829
Watching the news these days can be overwhelming. And of course, when we sit in our living rooms, helplessly watching as people are swept away, or fires rage, or houses crumble, or..., we want to feel less helpless. And all of us can help - with donations to reputable relief organizations. Any size of donation is welcomed. Give what you can. (For instance, instead of buying coffee every morning, donate your coffee money.)
Please remember to specify "greatest need" when donating to relief organizations.
Here is ReliefWeb's list of the Latest Natural Disasters (as of mid March 2011):
edit 2014: In October 2014, ReliefWeb lists 47 current disasters, including - of course - the spread of the deadly disease ebola in Africa. There is also drought in Honduras, volcanic eruptions in Columbia and the Philippines, flooding as a result of tropical storms in Taiwan and the Philippines, cyclones (and flooding) in India and Pakistan, critical food shortages in parts of Africa in conflict, etc. etc.ReliefWeb wrote:Latest Natural Disasters
Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami - Mar 2011
New Zealand: Earthquake - Feb 2011
Madagascar: Cyclone Bingiza - Feb 2011
Mexico: Cold Wave - Feb 2011
Cyclone Yasi - Jan 2011
Malaysia : Floods - Jan 2011
Cyclone Wilma - Jan 2011
Bolivia: Floods and Landslides - Jan 2011
Southern Africa: Floods - Jan 2011
Vanuatu: Tropical Cyclone Vania - Jan 2011
Bangladesh: Cold Wave - Jan 2011
Here again are some of the organizations that are already working in most areas of the world. They <strike>can use</strike> need your help.
Red Cross (Canada) http://www.redcross.ca/
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) http://www.ifrc.org/
World Vision: http://www.wvi.org/
DoctorsWithoutBorders (International) http://www.msf.org/msfinternational/donations/
UN World Food Program (WFP) http://www.wfp.org/
Of course, there are many other reputable relief organizations putting together appeals.