How to Best Help Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan

Following the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, many are trying to figure out the most effective way to help. We’ll cut to the chase: it’s money.

Often at times of disaster people want to donate new and used clothing, canned foods, and building supplies. Typhoon survivors need shelter, medicine, and food – NOW. They don’t need your old clothes.

Shipments of in-kind donations compete for limited airport space and consume very limited resources when they arrive. Think how many vehicles, and how much manpower and fuel would be needed to receive, sort, organize, transport and deliver well-meaning shipments from all over the world. These are resources that simply aren’t available after a natural disaster strikes. In addition, often in-kind supplies are unsuitable for the devastated population.

The best way to help is to donate money to organizations that were operating in the area before the typhoon hit, such as The Philippine Red Cross, or to US-based nonprofits that support these local organizations. They are already set up in the area and know what the community needs and how to get it to them. If it’s a US-based nonprofit with which you’re not yet familiar, review its website and Forms 990 to see how transparently it has carried out its programs and activities in the past and what it has accomplished. In most cases, only donations to US-based entities are tax deductible.

Donating to established organizations also helps avoid donating to phony charities that often pop up after natural disasters. The U.S. Department of Justice set up the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) in 2005 to investigate and deter fraud related to federal disaster relief programs, but many are still out there. If you encounter disaster-related fraud, report it by contacting the NCDF at 877-623-3423 or by email.

If you have donated to an organization helping typhoon survivors, share it with our readers in the comments section below.

NOTE: The information contained herein is not intended to be legal advice and the reader should know that no Attorney-Client relationship or privilege is formed by the posting or reading of this article which is also not intended to solicit business.

Casey Summar, Partner, The Law Firm for Non-Profits,1812 W Burbank Blvd, #7445, Burbank, CA 91506

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