After a disaster, people come together to help. To make the most of your contributions, it’s important to follow guidelines for donating and volunteering responsibly. The below tried and true best practices will give you a starting point. You can also email the FEMA Donations Unit for answers to your specific questions or to make an in-kind donation.
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.
To find a list of trusted organizations that can put your generous contributions to the best possible use, visit National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
In-Kind Donations: Confirm What, Where and When
Donated items are needed. Knowing what is needed, where it is needed, and getting it there at the right time is the key. Critical needs change rapidly. Before collecting, confirm the need.
- Not everything is needed. Used clothing is never needed.
- Bulk donations are best. Pallet loads of a single item, sorted, and boxed.
- Timing is important. Too soon or too late and no one wins.
- Transportation needs to be worked. How will it get to where it is needed?
Connect to Volunteer
Don’t self-deploy to disaster areas. Trusted organizations operating in the affected area know where volunteers are needed. Depending on the disaster and the current phase it is in, volunteers can be extremely helpful to ensure survivors can return to their new normal. By working with an established non-profit organization, the appropriate safety, training, and skills can be considered.
Recovery lasts a lot longer than media attention. There will be volunteer needs for many months, often many years, after the disaster. Your help is often needed long after a disaster.
Learn About FEMA's Voluntary Agency Liaison (VAL) Program
Let us Help
If you have items to donate, time to volunteer, or cash to give and have questions, please reach out to us. We would love to help you, help others.