Posted by on Nov 20, 2013 Views: 3636

How To Help — And Not To Help — The Philippines

The enormity of the human tragedy and pain caused by Typhoon Haiyan is splashed across every news site and TV. As we think about how we can help, there are several lessons we’ve learned from Hurricane Katrina, the South Asian Tsunami and the Haiti earthquake to remember.

1. Do not donate goods

While it can be well-intentioned, donations of shoes or clothing or other personal goods are not useful in disaster situations. The time, cost and logistics of shipping these goods internationally do not make sense. Donate money. This way, the aid organizations can purchase what people need quickly, buy what is most needed, purchase the goods locally and support the local economy.

2. Do not try to volunteer right now

Most nonprofits working now to get out relief supplies have trained staff or trained volunteers already. There is limited to almost no logistical capacity to interview, vet and train new volunteers right now. Wait another 3 months when power, roads and food are available and then there will be plenty of opportunities for you to volunteer to help rebuild houses and schools.

3. Donate now, and pledge to give again

Rebuilding the lives and communities devastated by the typhoon will take years, if not decades. According to RAND study, it will take 11 years to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina.

So give now, but don’t forget to give again. Fisherman will need money to repair their boats and fishing equipment, children are going to need rebuilt schools, and farmers will need funds to replant their fields. This is going to be a marathon. We tend to have a short memory, so try to commit yourself to not forgetting about this cause a year from now, or 10 years from now.

Here is a list of international disaster relief charities and reviews about them:

4. Bring your community together with a fundraiser

In addition to your own giving, you can raise money from people in your community. At a time when we’re all reeling from the enormity of this tragedy, one of the most healing things you can do is to organize a potluck dinner, church or school donation drive to get your friends together and raise money for this cause.

Perla Ni is the founder and CEO of GreatNonprofits, a website that helps inform and inspire nonprofit excellence through community sourced feedback about nonprofit organizations. Here is a list of disaster relief charities and reviews about them: