Which Hurricane Relief Fund is Legit?


I’m sure we all want to donate to the hurricane relief efforts for both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, but which one will use your money properly? There are so many ways to donate, but some of the hurricane relief money is actually going straight into people’s pockets instead of to the victims. What if you donate to the wrong relief effort?

Which Relief Funds Have Wasted Donations in the Past

I have relatives that live in Houston and were affected by the recent hurricane. And after seeing some of the terrible images of the flooding, I desperately wanted to help.

hurricane harvey

Picture from abcnews.go.com

I donated through my church, but I also looked into some other hurricane relief funds to see what was out there. What I found out will completely blow your mind. Did you know that many of the relief efforts are basically stealing your money? They aren’t giving your donations to the victims at all. In fact, they are just pocketing the money.

How’s this possible? Some charities spend up to half of the donations on internal costs, overhead, and HUGE manager salaries and benefits. Your donations cover these costs in addition to the relief services they provide. So charities with the lowest overhead costs are the best.

Another way to help is to provide food to local foods banks near the disaster site. That way, your whole donation is sure to help.

Steer Clear of These Charities:

  1. The Red Cross – What? Yes, it’s true. The Red Cross has been accused in several cases recently of mismanaging the money they receive in donations. See NPR notes that Red Cross wasted $125 million in Haiti donations on internal costs,
  2. Charities Named After the hurricane – Be careful of new charities that pop up with the name of the disaster. After Hurricane Sandy, a couple opened up a fake charity, raised $600,000 and spent the money on themselves.
  3. Phishing Email Scams – You might receive emails asking for donations after the disaster, but DON’T CLICK! These are usually just ways to steal your private info or infect your computer with malware. Also, be careful of similar text messages.

Which Relief Funds That Help

These relief funds are among the most efficient at providing the biggest portion of your money directly to the victims of the hurricanes. (All these suggestions are based on my research. I’m not being paid at all to suggest these.)

  1. United Methodist Committee on Relief – This charity received an A+ rating from Charity Watch. Overhead costs are only 6% of donations. Pretty amazing!
  2. The LDS Church – This is the only charitable organization in the country where every single penny donated goes to the relief effort. There are no paid employees. Every person involved is a volunteer, and so there is no way to waste money on paying people. The overhead costs are paid from the LDS church and not from the donations. So that means 100% of the money is used to help people. They usually bring semi truck loads of food, water, and hygiene kits to the scene within the first day after every natural disaster that the country experiences.
  3. Catholic Relief Services – They received an A+ rating from Charity Watch, and most of the donations go directly to relief. Only about 8% of the funds are needed to cover overhead costs.
  4. Partners in Health – This organization also received an A+ and likewise on use 8% for overhead costs.
  5. Disaster Philanthropy – Facebook ditched The Red Cross in support of Disaster Philanthropy. Find out why in this article.

How to Decide if a Charity is Right For You

1. Check their website.
Always check the charity’s website to see what kind of projects they focus on. Make sure that you agree with the way they are doing things.

2. Check their grade on charity watch sites.
Charity watch sites grade charities based on how well they are using your funds. They can also tell you if the charity is legitimate. Here are three options: GuideStarCharityNavigator, Better Business Business Wise Giving Alliance, and CharityWatch.

Most charities spend about 15% of funds on admin costs and 10% on fundraising efforts. This means that 25% of your donation doesn’t go to help the victims. So if you want your donation to be used only for the victims, try to find charities with lower costs.

3. Check the news

See if there are any recent news stories on Google about your selected charity. Sometimes you will find useful info about a breaking story that steers you away from one charity or another.

Final Thought

hurricaneDon’t let this discourage you from charitable giving. There are many wonderful organizations out there that are currently helping recent hurricane victims. If you don’t have enough money to donate, you can keep in your thoughts and prayers. Setting up a budget and learning to manage your money better can help you be able to donate in the future.

If you know of a good charity for disaster relief, share its name in the comments below for other readers. Thanks! We love comments!

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  • Reply
    Diane J
    September 12, 2017 at 9:12 am

    That is good info. I donated to the Texas Diaper Bank.

    • Reply
      September 14, 2017 at 12:24 am

      Sounds good. Glad you could help!

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