After a disaster, people come together to help. To make the most of your contributions, it’s important to follow these guidelines for donating and volunteering responsibly. To find a list of trusted organizations that can put your generous contributions of money, donations and time to the best possible use, visit National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
View our COVID-19 page for detailed suggestions on how to help with the pandemic response.
Cash is Best
Financial contributions to recognized disaster relief organizations are the fastest, most flexible and most effective method of donating. Organizations on the ground know what items and quantities are needed, often buy in bulk with discounts and, if possible, purchase through businesses local to the disaster, which supports economic recovery.
Confirm What Donations are Needed
Unsolicited goods NOT needed burden local organizations’ ability to meet survivors’ confirmed needs, drawing away valuable volunteer labor, transportation and warehouse space.
Critical needs change rapidly. Confirm with trusted organizations what items are needed BEFORE collecting. Remember to:
- Pack and label carefully
- Confirm delivery locations
- Arrange transportation
Connect to Volunteer
Don’t self-deploy to disaster areas. Trusted organizations operating in the affected area know where volunteers are needed and can ensure appropriate volunteer safety, training and housing.
Recovery lasts a lot longer than the media attention. There will be volunteer needs for many months, often many years, after the disaster — especially when the community enters the long-term recovery period. Your help is often needed long after a disaster, when others may have forgotten about it.