Hurricane Harvey: Help Responsibly

Gerald Sam and his son Gavir resting at George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, New York Times.

Hurricane Harvey has quickly proven to be one of the most catastrophic disasters in U.S. history. No storms of its intensity have been plagued with such massive rainfall, and the loss of lives and property continue to rise. AccuWeather estimates that more than $160 billion dollars will be needed to repair the physical damage from Harvey, that’s more than the combined cost of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

But if there is any silver lining, it is that Harvey’s persistence is being matched by the philanthropy of citizens across the country. Nearly one week into the devastation, over $30 million dollars has been pledged by celebrities like Kevin Hart, The Rock, Beyoncé and more in response to Harvey’s devastation, and all are encouraging their followers and friends to follow suit. Social media super firms like Facebook, Twitter, even Airbnb are empowering people from all over to provide relief to supplement strained federal and regional emergency response efforts.

I want to personally take a moment to encourage all of us, whether with abundant or minimal means to do all we can to aid our brothers and sisters affected by Harvey.

As a nonprofit advisor I often hear about online scams, transaction rip-offs and unvetted or suspicious organizations who have misused or flat-out taken dollars given by people simply wanting to help. We may feel tempted to send donated goods to organizations near Houston, but in the wake of Harvey’s devastation accepting physical goods may prove impractical for nonprofits, making it a much better bet to give money. To this end, I have put together a short list that I hope will alleviate any fears out there preventing you from being a blessing to those who need it.

Finally, here are my recommendations on the most popular (and safe) sites to provide #HurricaneHarveyRelief:

Facebook has partnered with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to prompt all users to donate any amount they choose.

GoFundMe is a great crowdfunding site, allowing you to influence your personal network and get your friends to donate. If you want to join an existing fundraiser on their site you’ll be taken to a landing page that gathers the campaigns on its platform related to Harvey.

Feeding Texas rallies the state and other providers when a disaster is too big for one food bank to manage. They are accepting financial assistance here:

It is recommended that you always research the organizations you support, CharityNavigator is a great resource.

*Most popular sites according to Twitter search #hurricaneharveyrelief on August 30, 2017

Simone Cherie is a nonprofit advisor, activist, and columnist based in Atlanta, GA. Affiliates: 20/20 Leaders of America and OUTSET Network. More @thesimonecherie