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.
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.
In-Kind Donations: Confirm What, Where and When
Donated items are needed. However, without thoughtful planning donated goods can further burden a community that is already in crisis. 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
Do not 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 often is needed long after a disaster.
How You Can Help
If you have items to donate, time to volunteer in support of a nonprofit, or cash to give and have questions, email the FEMA Donations Unit. We would love to help you, help others.
To find a list of trusted organizations, additional information on donations and other resources, visit National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.