Saturday, September 30, 2017

Overwhelmed and Numbed by Disasters and Relief Appeals?: What to Do

At the moment I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and even numb by watching and reading about the disasters of Harvey, Irma, Maria and Mexico’s earthquake along with the various requests to help with relief efforts.

Where I shop, there are people outside the store collecting money and when I pay for my purchases I’m asked if I’d like to make a donation to one cause or other. Local TV channels are sponsoring relief efforts so that your favorite show is cropped to make room for Red Cross donation information. Our local school not only is fundraising for disaster relief but they are also looking for funds for field trips, school supplies etc. On Facebook, various friends are collecting money and signatures for a variety of causes and my in box is flooded with e-appeals.

As a friend noted that between her friends wanting her to support their causes, donating to an organization she believed in, only to be inundated with e-mails for continued support, and fundraising campaigns at her workplace, she was starting to turn a blind eye to everything.

It is not that people aren’t concerned or caring, it’s just how much to give, when and to whom. So here are some things to consider:

• Don’t give until it hurts.

• Set a budget of what you can give financially and/or of your time. Both are of value. Identify in your “budget” what skills you have to donate as an in-kind, how often and if you have a preferred group. It’s fine to focus on your condition specific organization (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation) as many of those affected by these conditions live in places that have been heavily impacted by the various natural disasters.

• Prioritize what organizations, charities etc. are most important to you. Contribute only when it fits in your budget and when you feel like your contribution will have the most impact. Keep in mind that many people are experiencing “donor fatigue” and so when it comes to annual contributions during the holidays, organizations that you may depend on might fall short in their fundraising goals.

• In the workplace. If the company you work for is pushing for 100 percent employee participation in their campaigns it can feel like a lot of pressure. While you may want to give a very nominal amount, it would be prudent to speak to those in charge and explain that  a) This approach doesn’t feel voluntary and b) This isn’t the manner in which you feel comfortable giving. If a co worker or a manager is soliciting for a charity consider your budget and priority list. A small contribution isn’t a big deal, as long as it’s not a big deal to you. Regardless of the situation, only give if you want to.

• During disasters there are people that set up bogus operations and try to scam people as a way to make money. If you are going to donate, make it to a reputable charity. Use sites like Charity Navigator to help you.

• If you own a business, consider registering for as a way to control request. If you have a special skill, such as being an artist or crafts person, read How to Handle Donation Requests, which provides some very helpful advise-including sample letters-to use.

• Check out previous posts that relate to this topic:

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