#2 of 5 Part Series: How to Donate After Disaster Strikes

In last week's post, we started with the question: do you want to give a Band-aid or provide a cure? In this post, we’ll review the questions you need to ask and provide a starting point for assessing and evaluating a charity after a natural disaster.

Don’t rush to donate even though emotional appeals after a tragic event like Hurricane Harvey, Irma or the earthquake in Mexico create a sense of urgency. Take a moment and reflect. Then:

#2 - Do your research. 

Easier said than done but even a little forethought can go a long way in making the right choice. Review your options and decide the type of project you'd like to donate to. Once you’ve found a charity you’re interested in, check them out with a quick Google search. Any red flags?

Review the charity on rating organizations like Charity Navigator (US), Charity Watch (US), Charity Intelligence (Canada), or Guidestar (UK).  Note: all rating organizations have their own set of limitations, pros and cons, but provide a baseline for your research. Learn the criteria they use when they rank charities.

If you are keen on impactful giving, take time to develop a strategy, plan, and framework for how you give. What is your vision for the type of project or cause you or your company would like to contribute to? Vet the charities and do your due diligence. This may also be the time to secure the help of an expert.

At VortoVia, for disaster relief specifically, we start with these questions for our clients:

·       Will the charity provide immediate aid or long-term aid

·       Does the charity have experience working in the region impacted? Are they currently working there?

·       What will the charity do with your donation if they cannot use it for the intended purpose? Do they have a donor policy in place?

·       What are the needs in the disaster zone?  It may be best to wait to donate until local government assess the needs – just don’t forget to donate!

·       What is the mission and focus of the charity? Does that align with the greatest need and the area you are interested in supporting?

·       What part of a donation goes to administration and fundraising costs? Yes, there are costs involved with any charity but are these in-line with other non-profits doing the same type of work? How transparent are they with not only their finances but their methodology and results? 

·       Is the charity already established with a proven track record or has it popped-up post disaster? Most brand-new efforts lack the experience, planning, and knowledge needed to make a substantial, lasting impact.

Finally, whether you are an individual, foundation, or business, it's always best to plan ahead on what you will donate to, how, and why so that it's easy to make your decision when disaster strikes.  

Come back later this week to learn more from our next post in this 5-part series! If you missed the first post, check it out here and continue reading here.


Are you a business, individual, or foundation that would like to be strategic about your giving, social responsibility, and impact? Or a charity that would like to innovate, scale and become fiscally sustainable? Not sure where to start or what to focus on? Contact Nicole and the VortoVia team for a consultation.