After a disaster on the scale of Hurricane Harvey, many people would like to find some way to help out. But what is the most effective way to do that?
To figure out what is best, it is important to realize that there are three main stages of recovery, and the third stage will take the longest:
Stage 1: Response – saving lives and removing people from harm’s way.
Stage 2: Relief – making sure people are temporarily housed, clothed, and fed.
Stage 3: Recovery – returning home and rebuilding
Houston is predominantly in the second stage now, and there are a number of effective non-profits who are working to provide relief. Both the Texas Diaper Bank, and the Red Cross have created an Amazon Wishlist with the items that they need. To vet some of the other nonprofits serving the area, Charity Navigator has set up a Harvey specific page that is a big help. Working with a one-issue organization, like a food bank, or charity can be a meaningful way to provide a necessity where people who are seeking it can find it.
Long-term recovery in stage 3 is going to take billions of dollars and strategic cross-sector collaboration between funders, government, nonprofits, and public/private humanitarian actors. Flood recovery will primarily mean rebuilding homes. This will require drywall, wood, carpet, and flooring. Furniture, appliances, computers, and even mattresses will need to be replaced. The Better Business Bureau is offering good tips on how to help longterm, and Business Insider has a guide to the best charities.
Some people have flocked to GoFundMe pages to support individuals, but we do not recommend it because of the possibility for scams, and the difficulty for some people who are not technologically savy to access help this way. There is no accountability for money given via GoFundMe. Giving to a vetted non-profit helps with accountability, and your donation is probably tax-deductible if the group has filed with the IRS.
To inspire others, post word of your donation on our facebook page, and let us know so that we can send you one of our new Burnett & Williams ampersand accessories! #HelpingTogether