Anytime we face natural disasters such as we’ve seen with the landfall of Hurricane Harvey, our first thoughts—and the work of the first responders—are rightly focused on protecting those in harm’s way. Those of us at the National Trust are thankful that our colleagues in Texas and Louisiana are safe, and we continue to keep the millions affected in those states foremost in our minds. Knowing that many want to help, I want to share some good counsel for effective disaster giving, if you are so inclined. No matter the amount donated, the underlying message is to diversify disaster giving.
- Give to more than one charity. Just like any other investment, spread your funding to more than one organization, with different goals for each.
- Give to recovery as well as relief: remember the long recovery phase that comes after a disaster. The urgent relief phase often gets the bulk of attention and funding, but don’t forget about recovery, which is often far longer, harder and more expensive. Recovery done well also requires different kinds of organizations and capacities.
- Fund local organizations, too – and those causes already close to your heart. It doesn’t take much time to find qualified charities to support, and the research can be inspiring and unifying.
- Save some of your giving for later. No matter how much you plan on giving, take some of it and set it aside for year-end holiday giving. The picture of local needs will be very different at that time, allowing new choices for making an impact, even with a small contribution.
I read a bit of Anne Lamott when I was on vacation (even though I know that some are defensive about liking Anne Lamott). She had thoughts about a merciful response to events we don’t expect, which seem appropriate in the current environment:
“You can say that certain tragic events are unfair…but really, they are just true. Randomness and brutality are just what is; but so is mercy. … Mercy, grace, forgiveness, and compassion are synonyms, and the approaches we might consider taking when facing a great big mess…It includes…the idea of accepting life as it presents itself and doing goodness anyway, the belief that love and caring are marbled even into the worst life has to offer.”
Doing goodness after accepting what life presents is a good thought to keep in mind during these difficult times.
More to come…