Donations and volunteers can be extremely helpful after a disaster, as long as they meet the needs of the victims, the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs), and the government officials involved in the response. Unfortunately, donated goods and volunteers that are not specifically necessary can actually cause more confusion and hurt relief efforts. Coordinating donated money, goods, and volunteer efforts after a disaster ensures that survivors get help effectively and efficiently.
Massachusetts residents can help those in need by donating and volunteering responsibly following an emergency or disaster. These donation and volunteer tips apply to disaster relief efforts within Massachusetts, across the country, and internationally.
Donating cash to a recognized disaster relief organization is the best way to help people in need after a disaster.
Benefits of cash donations:
- It allows relief organizations to directly fund response and recovery efforts, obtain goods and services locally, and provide direct financial aid to disaster survivors.
- It avoids the complicated, costly, and time-consuming process of collecting, sorting, transporting, and distributing donated goods.
- It may be tax deductible.
If you need help choosing an organization to donate to, the Massachusetts VOADs website has a list of organizations involved in disaster response. For disasters elsewhere in the U.S., see National VOAD organizations, and for international disasters, see http://www.interaction.org/ for organizations involved in disaster relief.
- Donate goods that are specifically requested or needed by recognized organizations. Contact your chosen organization before starting to collect or donate.
- Make a food donation to a local food bank that may distribute food to those impacted by the disaster.
Get Involved with a recognized disaster relief organization before a disaster happens to receive the necessary training to help when a disaster occurs.
After a disaster, wait for instructions from local officials or check with specific organizations about volunteer opportunities before going directly to volunteer at a relief organization, hospital, or disaster site. Be patient — many people want to volunteer immediately after a disaster, but there may be a greater need for volunteers during the recovery period, weeks and months after a disaster strikes.