Texas National Guard Soldiers conduct rescue operations in flooded areas around Houston, Texas, Aug. 27, 2017. Photo Credit: US Army

Natural Disasters, Aid Groups, And Donor Questions

UPDATE: The day we posted this story, NFL star JJ Watt announced his plans for distributing the $37M he raised for Hurricane Harvey relief. Here is the press release: JJ Watt Hurricane Fund Announcement

In the wake of several natural disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires, many of you have tried to help by giving to aid organizations. It’s easier than ever to do, with companies like Google and Facebook providing donate buttons, which connect donors to a number of charities. In August, NFL star JJ Watt used the crowdfunding platform YouCaring to single-handedly raise more than $37 million for Hurricane Harvey.

Of course, even if giving is easy to do, it’s much harder to ensure our charitable dollars have impact. So we put some of your questions about disaster giving to Ohio State University Professor Brian Mittendorf who specializes in nonprofit accounting, and Bob Ottenhoff, CEO of the nonprofit Center for Disaster Philanthropy. In this podcast, they tackle recent criticisms about the American Red Cross, explain how nonprofits spend the dollars you give, and discuss the importance of giving long-term aid and not just to immediate relief. “You might also consider, as you’re planning how to respond to disasters, to save some of your dollars for the next month or the next year when the really difficult work begins,” Ottenhoff advises. “People are going to really need our dollars then because they’re scarcer to get.”

Additional Resources:

Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s website

Stretching your donation dollars: 5 tips – The Conversation

Want To Help Hurricane Harvey Victims? Experts Say Donate Cash – NPR

Mittendorf on Twitter

Ottenhof on Twitter

Feature Photo: Texas National Guard Soldiers conduct rescue operations in flooded areas around Houston, Texas, Aug. 27, 2017. Credit: US Army

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