Charitable Giving After Disasters – How You Can Help
investing-my-money | Read Time: 3 minutes
By Elizabeth B. Wagner | Published: February 2023
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
-Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
The famous advice given by Fred Rogers’ mother is often quoted by philanthropists who yearn to help after a faraway disaster: tornadoes and earthquakes, tsunamis and floods, war, the sudden outbreak of disease, a large and senseless act of violence. When these events reach the news and touch the heartstrings, charitable people search for a way to participate in solutions. Here’s a roadmap for those moments:
- Start with dollars: For those first few days and weeks of a disaster, it’s hard to get goods into the affected zone. You may have a pile of blankets to donate but save those items for an event close to home. If you’re able to make a cash contribution quickly – online is fastest or send a gift of stock – your gift will help right away.
- Look for the first responders: For the first few days, experienced first responders – like the Red Cross and Red Crescent, or the White Helmets – will be the primary helpers on the ground, and they’re easy to find and give to. They’ll be most active for the first week post-disaster and then will fade away as local and international organizations take over. Search and rescue, medical help, food, and temporary shelter are typically the first needs.
- Prioritize existing networks: Organizations that have effective networks of volunteers, partners, and distribution channels before the disaster will have an advantage in getting materials and services to the affected area quickly. Assess organizations to which you consider giving – did they have programs in this geographic area before the disaster? Give local!
- Tap philanthropic resources: Look at the websites for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and the Council on Foundations first; both provide advice to foundation funders, and you may find the background helpful. If the event happened in the US – or sometimes even outside the country – there may be a local community foundation. Google the location and “community foundation” and see if the giving experts on the ground have specific recommendations about organizations best placed to help quickly.
- Don’t forget recovery: Disaster outcomes are not solved by first responders. If you feel connected to a particular event, stay involved. Keep an eye on local news if you can – sometimes social media can help with this – and try to give in a way that addresses the root cause of the disaster and empowers the community to thrive in the future.
Bryn Mawr Trust is here to help with your charitable gifts. If you’d like specific advice about your philanthropy, including how to engage with any disaster event, reach out to us.
About the Author – Elizabeth Baran Wagner
Elizabeth Baran Wagner is Senior Vice President and Director of Institutional Wealth Management for Bryn Mawr Trust. She has over two decades of experience advising long-term charitable solutions for high-net-worth individuals, families, and nonprofit institutions.
This communication is provided by Bryn Mawr Trust for informational purposes only. Investing involves the risk of loss and investors should be prepared to bear potential losses. Past performance may not be indicative of future results and may have been impacted by events and economic conditions that will not prevail in the future. No portion of this commentary is to be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell a security or the provision of personalized investment, tax or legal advice. Certain information contained in this report is derived from sources that Bryn Mawr Trust believes to be reliable; however, Bryn Mawr Trust does not guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of such information and assumes no liability for any resulting damages.
Nonprofits are facing new challenges in the current financial environment. Between market volatility, inflationary pressure, the unpredictable behavior of donors and the general financial anxiety of board members who are concerned with keeping the organization on track to meet a year-end budget, there’s a lot to worry about–but there are also opportunities to rely on best practices to position organizations well for the future.Read More
Endowments work hard to ensure their resources last in perpetuity–but forever is a long time, and it’s impossible to predict what might happen. In addition, trustees come and go as term limits dictate, so it’s more important than ever that those with fiduciary responsibility can make smart decisions to help the endowment grow.Read More
As we begin a New Year, we often reflect on the past and make resolutions for the future. Last year brought many challenges within the overall financial markets. In an effort to fight inflation the Fed raised interest rates from near zero to a range of 4.25% to 4.5%, the fastest pace since the 1980s.Read More
For Retirees, Some Welcome Social Security and Other Benefits Increases to Help Ease Impacts of Inflation
With inflation at multi-decade highs, retirees are feeling the squeeze as they grapple with the effects of rising prices on gasoline, housing, medical expenses and groceries, to name a few. With the Federal Reserve aggressively fighting inflation by raising short term interest rates, both the stock and bond markets have experienced substantial declines, adding further stress to an already stressful environment.Read More