Frustration is growing with the Red Cross and FEMA in their response to Hurricane Sandy. The director of the State office of Emergency Management, Steven Kuhr, was dismissed yesterday after officials learned he deployed government employees in Suffolk County to clear a tree at his home in Long Island. Kuhr’s position is being filled by Howard Glaser, an operations director for the state, who will work closely with Governor Cuomo in efforts to restore power to those 240,000 still living without it.
Those looking to help have begun looking to other Hurricane Sandy volunteer resources in order to help make a difference in the clean up and restoration of the areas hit hardest by the hurricane. Residents in the areas say they are thankful for the help, but claim that it is hard to find and not enough. With up cry over the lack of fuel that was promised to the area by FEMA and a shortage of vital supplies such as blankets and clothing, one thing is clear: the need for public donations is clear.
But even as neighbors across the country come together to help those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, there are always those who would seek to capitalize on the misfortunes of others. Before you donate make sure you know who is really getting the funds and what they will be used for. Just as we have seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where scammers stole donation money by fraudulently portraying themselves as representatives of popular charities through emails, and unlicensed contractors played off homeowners’ desperation to fix their home by charging exuberant upfront charges only to perform shoddy work and disappear, we can expect the same to happen again now.
One of the easiest ways to ensure that your donations are actually going to where you intend them is to go directly to the organization you are seeking to donate, rather than giving to a party claiming to be collecting on behalf of the organization. The safest way would be directly through the organizations main website, never through unsolicited emails claiming to be from an organization. Avoid donating to those canvassing on the streets or outside shopping centers, even if they are legitimate these groups are generally paid fundraisers.
When donating it is also wise to look into the fiscal records of the organization you have chosen. Many organizations may use this tragedy as an excuse to cash in, spending the funds you had meant to help Sandy victims to instead pay for things like management or fundraising costs. Look for organizations whose fiscal records show strong donation trends that don’t spend large amounts of their donations within the organization itself.
Another important aspect to look into when choosing an organization to donate to is their mission statement and any other interests that they may represent. Many faith-based charitable organizations, such as Operation Blessing and Samaritan’s Purse, offer spiritual assistance in addition to the charity work they perform. Those who are uncomfortable with the idea of donating to a charity that includes evangelical outreach in their mission statement would likely like to seek-out an alternative organization such as Operation USA or Heart to Heart International.
While the sad truth is that there are many people in the world who would take advantage of the suffering brought on by natural disasters such as Sandy to make a quick buck, it is important not to let the moral bankruptcy of a few deter us from lending a hand to our neighbors. With a mindful eye towards the organizations you seek to support, knowledge of their fiscal reports and mission statements, and a critical eye towards how and where you donate you can ensure that your donation is going where it will do the most good.
Additional Hurricane Sandy coverage, includes:
- Icarus Awards: Hurricane Sandy Heroes and Fools
- Hurricane Sandy Travel Recovery Solutions
- Peter’s Hurricane Sandy Travel Advice: A CBS This Morning Report
- 5 Tips for Rescheduling Flights During Hurricane Sandy
By Steven Knight for PeterGreenberg.com