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Here are 5 ways you can help after a natural disaster strikes

Residents repair their homes destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, Oct. 6, 2016. (Credit: AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

A terrible disaster befell a country, and you want to help out. Here is what you should do:

  1. Give money to established local organizations.
  2. Give money to established international relief organizations.
  3. Give money to the groups that have and will continue to work in affected areas.
  4. Stay home. If you are highly skilled and there is a call for volunteers by local communities and relief organizations, then it is fine. Otherwise, you are doing more harm than good.
  5. Throw out, re-use, recycle, up-cycle or find some other way to deal with your trash, but don’t send it to “help.” It is still trash. You will waste money shipping it. You will waste the time of someone who will have to sort through your trash when they could be doing something much more productive.

OK, I lied. There are not five ways you can help. Just give cash. That’s it. Text from your phone, take a few bucks out of your wallet or put that credit card to good use. And preferably make an untied donation so that organizations can use the money for other things, like future disasters and long-term work.


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]