American Red Cross Pledges Initial $1 Million to Haiti Relief
Send a $10 Donation by Texting ‘Haiti’ to 90999
Editorial note: You can make a donation by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or click on the Donate Now button.
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firstname.lastname@example.org The media attention that often follows an international disaster brings about a compassionate response from Americans. However, many are not sure of how they can best support the efforts of groups and governments responding in a crisis. This page offers recommendations on the most appropriate ways any of us can help. In almost every situation, cash donations are better than donated goods or services for reasons outlined below.
For specific information on current crises, visit our Disaster Response page for a list of events to which InterAction members are responding and links to their websites on how you can help.
Why Cash is Best
The best way to help is to donate financially to organizations responding to a disaster. Cash allows relief professionals to procure exactly what is needed in a disaster situation and ensure that donations are culturally, dietary, and environmentally appropriate. Cash donations do not use up other scarce resources, such as transportation, staff time or warehouse space. As needed, cash can also be transferred quickly to where needed, helping bolster the economy of the disaster-stricken region.
Material donations from individuals consist of new or used items that are donated to a relief effort. If you do decide to donate materials rather than cash, then there are steps you can take to ensure that your donation is made in such a way as to benefit the affected people while avoiding some of the problems often associated with donated material.
The most important step when donating materials is to contact an established, professional relief organization before you collect anything.
If you have already collected materials to donate, it can be put to their best possible use—and have the greatest impact economically—if donated to local charitable organizations within your own community or sold in a charity auction/yard sale with the proceeds donated to the disaster relief organization of your choice. (Advertising it as a yard sale to support the victims of a disaster might increase turnout.)
In the aftermath of humanitarian crises, it is critical that the response of the international community is immediate and well-coordinated in order to save as many lives as possible.
•Volunteers are asked to have previous disaster or international experience or technical skills (for example, medicine, communications, logistics, water/sanitation, engineering), and are usually from neighboring communities not affected by the disaster.
•Well-intentioned foreigners, lacking technical skills, disaster experience and familiarity with the local culture and language, can seriously complicate relief efforts.
•Those with technical skills or international experience who would like to volunteer should register with the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) after reading this page.