Philanthropy after Disasters



In times of disaster, it seems like second nature to help one another during their time of need. Charity and philanthropy are long standing practices in human history, so with recent and ongoing occurrences like the California Wildfires, the Las Vegas Shooting, Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Harvey, Earthquakes in Mexico, it is not surprising that people are finding ways to help. So, where and what should one donate, and how does one donate responsibly?

There are various charities that one can choose from, but almost all charities and relief organizations suggest monetary contributions first. The flexibility of financial contributions allows for the organization to direct the money to areas with the greatest need.
If one does not know what to donate, money is the easiest and the most effective form of donations.

The collection of goods is another option for donations. While this form of donating is done with positive intentions, if one does not already have a connection and understanding of what a community needs, it can be harmful. If one plans on donating goods in times of tragedy, be aware of the community you are donating to. Used clothes are the most harmful. Rather than sending winter clothing to places with a tropical climate or things a community cannot benefit from, consider the expressed needs. Reach out to organizations within the community to understand, what, where and when supplies are needed.


September 2, 2017, Austin, TX – The Austin Disaster Relief Network hosts a donation drop off in Austin TX. The Network gathered thousands of pounds of essential supplies meant to reduce suffering of Hurricane Harvey survivors throughout the region.

In an interview with CBS News, Juanita Rilling, former Director of the Center for International Disaster Information explained that some donations might not be helpful.

“The thinking is that these people, have lost everything, so they must need everything. And so, people send everything. Any donation is crazy if it’s not needed,” she explained.

If one does not have the means to make a financial contribution, there are options to help in direct volunteer e orts. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends finding a non-profit organization or a local group where you can volunteer your time. The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster’s website offers list of organizations and how to volunteer.

No matter where you would like to donate your time or money, there is an organization that could meet everyone’s needs. The American Red Cross and AmeriCares are both established non-profits that focus on disaster relief. For more specified organizations look to: UNIDOS Disaster Relief & Recovery Program, for Puerto Rico relief; Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, for the greater Houston community; Habitat for Humanity, for re-building e orts; Topos México, a volunteer rescue brigade; GoFundMe, for families of victims of the Las Vegas shooting.

Local communities that have their own relief efforts going for county fire and rescue department, LGBTQ centers, and family shelters. Local organizations need continued support, but it is important to be wary of crowd funding sites, as they do not all have to be legitimate before publication. Despite that fear, donations on the local and national level are important. If there is a disaster close to home, one can find ways to donate or even volunteer time in the most effective fashion.

For any Manhattanville student interested in participating in a relief e ort, numerous campus clubs and organizations are starting a relief effort this week titled, Valiant Unidos. They are collecting non-perishable goods to be sent directly with organizations and distribution centers to aid in relief e orts in Puerto Rico. Because of the College’s close ties with Puerto Rico, the fundraiser is close to many student’s heart.

Rev. Wil Tyrrell reminded Touchstone of the spirt of giving and social justice that Manhattanville stands for.

“We motivate ourselves through personal connections. Social justice stems from being engaged directly with local communities; it is the Valiant way,” he said.