Selim Zherka: Giving in a Crisis is as Easy as 1, 2, 3

Selim Zherka: Giving in a Crisis is as Easy as 1, 2, 3

You’ve just heard about a natural disaster that has rocked the worlds of millions of people overseas. And your heart sinks. You wish you could immediately take a plane to go and help the victims of Mother Nature’s fury, but you can’t — not with family and work obligations. Fortunately, you can still give money. A few steps can help you to make a wise investment when giving during a time of crisis, according to leading philanthropist Sam Zherka, also known as Selim Zherka.

First, before you give to a charity, consider how it responds to disasters. Not all charities are equal in this area. Although some charities focus on offering medical assistance, others provide water and food, and still others offer shelter. Meanwhile, some charities will focus on long- or short-term rebuilding efforts, and other organizations will raise funds for other nonprofit organizations. Look for a charity whose mission lines up with your own before you make your donation.

Second, be sure to give to a charity that is already established. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous charities exist in an effort to take your money and then use it for their own benefit. Search for a charity that has a solid reputation for handling disasters — especially one in the area of the world where the recent one took place. If you choose one that has attained 501(c)(3) status, you should be fine. Steer clear of those that pop up overnight simply to deal with the recent overseas crisis. Even a pop-up charity that means well will not possess the regional knowledge and infrastructure needed to maximize your donation efficiently.

Third, determine how exactly you want your donation to be used. Some charities discourage donors from designating their donations, as this gives these charities more freedom to determine how to use the money as needed. However, you may not feel confident in an organization’s ability to use your gift in the wisest way possible, so you have the right to dictate how it is used. Fortunately, some charities are more laid back in this area, so on their websites, you can check a box indicating how your gift should be used. If you’re sending in a physical check, just specify in the memo section how you want it to be used. With these three steps, you can quickly be on your way to bringing some home stability to those whose lives have been turned upside down due to a natural disaster overseas.