How to Donate and Volunteer Responsibly


Are you sitting in your well-lit, internet-connected apartment wondering how you can help those who aren’t as fortunate? Here are some quick tips on how to donate and volunteer responsibly.

From FEMA:

Cash is the most efficient method of donating – Cash offers voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources and pumps money into the local economy to help businesses recover. Remember, unsolicited donated goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable foodstuffs require helping agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.

If you need help in determining who to give to, National Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster website has a list of major non-profits that are active in disaster work or you can make your offer through the National Donations Management Network.

Donate through a trusted organization – At the national level, many voluntary-, faith- and community-based organizations are active in disasters, and are trusted ways to donate to disaster survivors. In addition to the national members, each state has its own list of voluntary organizations active in disasters. If you’d like to donate or volunteer to assist those affected by Isaac, these organizations are the best place to start.
Affiliate with existing non-profit organizations before coming to the disaster area. Immediately following a disaster, a community can become easily overwhelmed by the amount of generous people who want to help. Contacting and affiliating with an established organization will help to ensure that you are appropriately trained to respond in the most effective way.

Here are some volunteer groups FEMA recommends:

Here are some tips for volunteering/donating from the Red Cross:

If you’d like to volunteer at a Red Cross shelter and are…
Over the age of 16
Available for 12 hour shift from Wednesday, Oct 31 to Friday, November 2.
Be ready to deploy to a shelter location outside of New York City and stay for up to 72 hours.
Able to lift and carry 50 lbs
Comfortable working with people in stressful situations
If you meet these requirements, please fill out our Spontaneous Volunteer Application.
If shelters are needed, trainings for new volunteers will occur post-landfall.
What kind of donations are needed?
Unfortunately we are not ableto accept individual donations or collections of items such as clothing, food or cleaning supplies. The cost to sort, package and distribute these types of donations to disaster victims is usually greater than the cost of purchasing the items locally, and it is logistically impossible to distribute a wide variety of individual items in a meaningful and equitable way.
The best way to donate is to make a financial gift. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your gift enables the Red Cross to get prepared and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected.
Those affected by the disaster should consider registering themselves at the Red Cross Safe and Well website to let loved ones know you are safe during this stressful time. Safe and Well is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and is accessible in both English and Spanish.

You can also donate directly via Amazon.

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