Wise Giving Wednesday: In the Eye of the Storm

August 30, 2017

On Monday, BBB Wise Giving Alliance along with BBB’s distributed a press release that included advice on contributing to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts along with a list of BBB Accredited Charities raising funds. And now, Southeast Texas, as well as parts of Louisiana, are bracing for Harvey’s return.  As reported on CNN, the numbers are staggering: 11 trillion gallons of rain already dumped on Texas, 13 million people under flood watch warnings, 3,400 water rescues and an estimated 30,000 people who will need temporary shelter.

As the storm system continues its damage, we must also keep in mind one of the most important lessons from fundraising efforts of disasters past: giving to established, experienced and vetted relief organizations are one of the best ways to help. Here are just some of the advantages:

  • Logistics. Time is of the essence during the rescue and relief stage of a disaster. Organizations with boots on the ground, that are already engaged in delivering services, can help deliver faster than newly created efforts. Also, it's vital to have the ability not only to transport the items to the impacted area but to be able to distribute them as well.
  • Economies of scale. It's much cheaper for charities to buy or obtain large quantities of items in bulk (for example, bottles of water) than it would be for a new effort to do the same thing.
  • Knowing what is needed. Organizations already operating in the field have a better handle on identifying upcoming supply shortages than other entities that might assume what is important to obtain.
  • Not impeding existing efforts. The old expression "too many cooks spoil the broth" can be applied to disaster relief as well. Too many trucks and vehicles trying to deliver goods can end up creating bottlenecks that slow down efforts rather than enhance existing relief activities.
  • Avoiding duplication. Depending on the volume of competing relief efforts, some might unintentionally duplicate the work of others by bringing in items already in stock or focusing activities on areas that are already covered by existing organizations.

So, our message to those seeking to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey is to help point family and friends to trusted relief organizations that meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability (i.e., BBB Accredited Charities.)