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Disasterous Donations

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Disaster assistance is a staple of the non-profits that serve our communities. Our role as citizens is to help, and we do. Sometimes that help is the wrong kind, in too great a quantity and unusable by the people we intend to help.


After a disaster, it's natural for people to want to help those affected by offering donations. However, not all donations are effective or useful in supporting disaster recovery efforts. Unfortunately, some donated goods can become a burden on the disaster response system, and can even hinder recovery efforts.


The D911 Disaster Response Mobile App helps ease this confusion be connecting you directly to the agencies that require your help. You can donate to them exactly what they are requesting, whether it is a financial contribution, clothes, water or anything else. They will provide specific requests in the app, you can fulfill them. Thus eliminating the ensuing waste of goods that so often plaque a disaster relief response.


It seems impossible that so much gets wasted, "It happens in every disaster: People want to help, but they often donate things that turn out to be more of a burden. Disaster aid groups are trying to figure out a better way to channel these good intentions." (from the NPR article included in this blog)


This is where D911 makes a difference!


Here are some reasons why donated goods can become wasted after a disaster:

  1. Unsolicited goods: When people donate goods without checking with disaster response organizations first, it can create a logistical nightmare. Donated goods can take up valuable storage space, divert resources away from other critical needs, and even create health and safety hazards.

  2. Inappropriate goods: People often donate goods they believe will be useful, but which are not suitable for disaster response. For example, donating perishable goods like food, or goods that are not easily transported, such as furniture, can quickly become a waste.

  3. Duplicate donations: After a disaster, people from all over the world may send the same goods, creating a surplus of goods that cannot be used. This not only takes up valuable storage space, but it also diverts resources away from other critical needs.

  4. Limited distribution channels: In many disaster-stricken areas, there may be limited distribution channels for donated goods. This can result in goods being delivered to the wrong place or not being delivered at all.

  5. Cultural differences: In some disaster-stricken areas, certain donated goods may not be suitable due to cultural differences. For example, donated clothing may not fit or be appropriate for the local culture.

To prevent donated goods from becoming wasted after a disaster, it's important to give cash donations instead. Cash donations allow disaster response organizations to purchase the goods and services they need, when they need them, without the burden of managing unsolicited goods. They can also be more flexible and adaptable to the changing needs of the disaster response effort.


In the end, well-intentioned, donated goods can often become wasted after a disaster. To ensure that your donations have the greatest impact, consider giving cash donations instead, which allow disaster response organizations to purchase the goods and services they need, when they need them.


So, what is best to donate? Well, here are some guidelines to help you determine what to donate for disaster relief efforts:

  1. Ask disaster response organizations: Contact local disaster response organizations to find out what items are most needed. This will ensure that your donations are appropriate and will have the greatest impact.

  2. Donate money: Cash donations are often the most flexible and effective way to support disaster relief efforts. Disaster response organizations can use the funds to purchase the goods and services they need, when they need them.

  3. Donate goods that are easy to transport: When donating goods, choose items that are lightweight, non-perishable, and easy to transport. This will help ensure that your donations reach disaster survivors in a timely manner and without being damaged.

  4. Avoid donating perishable goods: Perishable goods like food and water have a limited shelf life and can create additional logistical challenges for disaster response organizations. Instead, consider donating money to organizations that specialize in providing food and water to disaster survivors.

  5. Consider the cultural context: When donating goods, consider the cultural context of the disaster-stricken area. For example, donated clothing may not fit or be appropriate for the local culture.

  6. Check with the disaster response organization before shipping: Before shipping any donations, check with the disaster response organization to ensure that they are able to receive and distribute your donation.

In conclusion, when deciding what to donate for disaster relief efforts, it's important to consider the needs of disaster survivors and the capabilities of disaster response organizations. By giving cash donations or donating goods that are easy to transport, you can ensure that your donations have the greatest impact and support disaster relief efforts in the most meaningful way possible.


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