How you can help
National VOAD, an association of organizations that mitigate and alleviate the impact of disasters, provides a forum promoting cooperation, communication, coordination and collaboration; and fosters more effective delivery of services to communities affected by disaster.
The National VOAD coalition includes over 50 of the country's most reputable national organizations (faith-based, community-based and other non-governmental organizations) and 55 State/Territory VOADs, which represent Local/Regional VOADs and hundreds of other member organizations throughout the country.
While all donations are appreciated, CASH IS BEST. The National VOAD members are fully-vetted, experienced, and dedicated professionals who will get the most out of your generous donation. If you wish to make a financial donation, please select a National VOAD member here.
Do not send or bring unsolicited donations. In the early stages of the response phase, most organizations are unable to accommodate any material goods. Unsolicited donations create a challenge of storage and sorting when focus is needed on response and recovery.
CASH IS BEST:
Cash offers voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources. Many charities specialize in providing relief in disaster areas, yet they face significant financial barriers to getting their staff, equipment, and supplies into impacted areas.
Your donation helps put experienced disaster responders on the ground, and gives them the tools they need to help survivors recover. Organizations typically prefer cash donations because they allow organizations to:
- Purchase food, water, medicine, and equipment from secure and familiar supply chains
- Buy materials locally. This can help rebuild the local economy
- Conserve resources. Money is always necessary and cheap to send, but the cost to ship material supplies can be expensive.
- Remember, material supplies such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable food require helping agencies to redirect volunteer labor away from providing direct one-on-one assistance to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
HOW TO VOLUNTEER:
DO NOT SELF DEPLOY !!!
Seeing images of disaster may compel you to head to the impacted area. Don’t underestimate the complexity of working in a disaster area. Until a need has been identified and the local community impacted has requested support, volunteers should not enter.
- Be sure to affiliate with existing voluntary organization before coming to the disaster area, and that organization has been asked to respond.
- Wait until it is safe to travel to volunteer sites and opportunities have been identified.
- Once assigned a position, make sure you have been given an assignment and are wearing proper safety gear for the task.
Be patient. Recovery lasts a lot longer than the media attention. There will be volunteer needs for many months, often years, after the disaster – especially when the community enters the long-term recovery period.
Affiliate with existing organizations
Immediately following a disaster, a community can become easily overwhelmed by the amount of generous people who want to help. Contacting and affiliating with an established organization will help to ensure that you are appropriately trained and supported to respond in the most effective way.
The impulse to help when others who are suffering is commendable. However, volunteering inside a disaster area can be dangerous, stressful work in extreme environments.
If you’d like to volunteer to assist those affected by disaster, these organizations have specific disaster roles and are the best place to start.