This has been a brutal hurricane season. Hurricane Harvey hit Texas hard and Irma basically destroyed several Caribbean islands. Now Maria has devastated Puerto Rico: It’s possible that the power will be out for months. In addition to the Puerto Ricans suffering through this, there are people on the island who are doubly traumatized because, less than two weeks ago, survivors of Irma were evacuated to Puerto Rico from the Virgin Islands. Meanwhile, as all this has been going on, Mexico has been hit by two earthquakes
If you’re looking for ways to help, I urge you to consider other charities besides the Red Cross. ProPublica has been reporting on the wastefulness and dysfunction of that organization for years. Despite the Red Cross’s widely reported inefficiency, whenever there’s a disaster, money pours into the organization anyway. In other words, the Red Cross won’t go broke without your donation, so you shouldn’t feel bad about sending your money to charities that will use it wisely.
I often make my decisions guided by Charity Navigator, which I mention so often that people are probably thinking I work for them. I don’t! And they’re not paying me either. Charity Navigator is a nonprofit that functions like a Better Business Bureau for charities. It rates organizations based on their financial health, accountability and transparency. On its website, Charity Navigator says:
“Our ratings show givers how efficiently we believe a charity will use their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time and their level of commitment to good governance, best practices and openness with information. In the not-too-distant future, we plan to also rate charities’ reporting of their results. We provide these ratings so that charitable givers/ social investors can make intelligent giving decisions, and so that the nonprofit sector can improve its performance.”
I like knowing whether a charity is putting its donations to good use, plus I can donate to multiple charities at the same time through Charity Navigator’s site. It’s as easy as putting multiple items in your cart and buying them in one transaction on a regular e-commerce site. You can even add some extra money to cover the transaction fees so that your entire donation is distributed to the charities you choose.
Here are the Charity Navigator links for charities assisting communities affected by one or more of the four big natural disasters of the past few weeks.
For some additional options, I previously posted this link for donations to the Caribbean islands affected by Irma, and I tweeted this link for aid to communities of color in Houston. A helpful guy named Doug Mack created this post on Medium that has links to the latest news about Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, plus links to charitable organizations. Remember, any amount helps and — whether or not you can donate personally — sharing the links with your friends and family helps too.