Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Charitable responses to disasters

Ken Masugi and Richard Walden want to start a national debate about how best to respond charitably to national disasters. Should we be giving as much as we are to big bureaucratic first responders, like the American Red Cross, or more to local groups focused on long-term recovery, not just immediate short-term relief? Good question.

Discussions - 1 Comment

Definitely a good question. Personally, I think I’d rather maximize my private gift by donating to local groups. While first response is obviously a critical need, long-term rebuild and recovery is a hard slog and unglamorous to boot. Also, local groups employ local people and have a presence in the area long after the Red Cross trucks roll out.

The trouble is that in the aftermath of a disaster, it can be very hard to get reliable information about local charities - how effectively they’re run, how established in the community, etc. So I’m guessing most folks, in their rush to help, end up going with the Red Cross as a "safe bet." If they waited a couple of weeks, they could probably find out more about local long-term efforts, but the urge to donate does tend to fade over time, unfortunately.

I’d love to see a non-subscription, persistent Web-based clearinghouse of relief charities at the national, state and local level. Something where you could type in "Orleans Parish" and get a list of organizations by type. Perhaps this already exists and I just don’t know about it? There are subscription library directories of non-profits, but they are cumbersome to use and the information provided is usually minimal. Heck, maybe Google can come up with something, they seem to be doing just about everything else.

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