The devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines last week has reportedly killed more than 10,000 people (by some estimates) and caused untold amounts of damage. As in any disaster, the first inclination for many people is to lend a hand, usually by volunteering or sending money to charities designed to help the survivors.
But remember, disasters also bring out the scum-weasels looking to make a buck off the catastrophe. As we’ve seen in the past — even with Superstorm Sandy here on the East Coast last year — it’s not long before the vultures get their fake websites set up and ready to rip off those trying to assist others.
If you donate, an established organization like the Doctors Without Borders or Oxfam is usually a safer bet that a pop-up charity without a lot of history or background. These groups have all stepped up efforts for the typhoon survivors:
- The Philippine Red Cross
- The American Red Cross
- Oxfam America
- World Vision
- Catholic Relief Services
- Doctors Without Borders
Before you give to any cause at any time, you can check out the reputation and reliability of many organizations at one of the watchdog sites online. These include:
- Charity Navigator calls itself your guide to intelligent giving. The site has evaluated more than 700 charities and reports what they do with your money.
- CharityWatch, from the American Institute of Philanthropy, also offers ratings and reviews.
- The Better Business Bureau has a special department from the BBB Wise Giving Alliance that reviews charities and keeps track of complaints.
As for the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyun, Google has launched a Person Finder Page for survivors and relatives to connect; the company also has a Crisis Response page with news and information. Apple is taking donations on behalf of the American Red Cross right in the iTunes Store and Microsoft has a Disaster Response Blog with a list of aid resources. The Feet in Two Worlds blog also has a list of resources compiled by Filipino Americans for those who wish to contribute to the relief and recovery efforts.
Earthquakes, typhoons/hurricanes, tsunamis, tornados, blizzards and other major weather events can’t be stopped. In this modern age of the Internet, however, it’s much easier to see when the storm is coming — and how to help where it’s most desperately needed in the aftermath.