Our hearts are with Texas today as they suffer through the worst hurricane to hit the US coast in more than a decade. To show our support - we put together this list of ways you can donate.
If you want to know what you can do to help out, here are a few tips to keep in mind when helping out during Harvey:
Cash is king. While you may want to send food and other items, the infrastructure may not support those donations. Many organizations have been clear that cash, or cash equivalent, is preferred (but keep reading). Keep receipts if you intend to claim those donations on your tax return.
Stay put. Yes, we all want to get in our cars and help but don't rush to help without checking first. There are already professionals and trained volunteers on the scene, and due to the potential for more flooding, relief officials have asked that folks stay off the roads where possible. If your services are needed and you do volunteer, remember that you can claim a tax deduction for your out-of-pocket expenses but not for your time.
Be smart. Be wary of personal solicitations on your doorstep or over the phone. Make sure that gifts made by checks or credit card gifts are secure. And don't send money by text or using apps like Venmo without first verifying the organization and the contact information. If you don't want to donate online or by text, most organizations have alternatives, like donation forms that you can mail together with a check (never send cash through the mail). Always keep excellent records of donations since the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that you do so for tax purposes - and having the information available is handy if you want to follow up with another donation.
Do your homework. Check out the credentials of a potential donee/charitable organization before you donate. Charity Navigator is useful for gathering information about existing charities and has a Hurricane Harvey specific section. Finally, you can always confirm charitable status through the IRS web site using the EO Select Check Tool. Remember that some organizations (like churches) may not be listed, so don't be afraid to ask organizations which don't appear on the list for more information.
LINKS FOR DONATIONS:
American Red Cross. To make a financial donation, visit their website, call 1.800.RED CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation for those in need.
Catholic Charities of USA. To make a financial donation, visit CCUSA's disaster-specific website or text 71777 to make a donation.
Global Giving. To make a financial donation, visit their website or text HARVEY to 80100 to donate $10 to Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund that will accept tax deductible donations. The fund is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity. To make a financial donation, visit the GHCF website.
Salvation Army. To make a financial donation, visit www.helpsalvationarmy.org, call 1.800.SAL ARMY, or text STORM to 51555.
Corporate donor sites and giving challenges include:
GoFundMe has created a landing page that aggregates the campaigns already created to help those affected by Harvey.
Starbucks has donated $250,000 to relief efforts. Customers in any U.S. company-operated store who want to help can make a donation to the American Red Cross at the register. Additionally, Starbucks employees who make a personal contribution to the relief efforts can request matching funds through the company's Partner Match program (pro tip: ask your company if they have a donor match program). More details can be found here.
United Airlines will match the first $100,000 raised through its charitable campaign. United MileagePlus members who donate a minimum of $50 to any of United's charitable partners will receive up to 1,000 bonus miles (details, which download as a pdf, are here). Remember that for tax purposes, if you receive something of value in exchange for a donation, your charitable deduction must be reduced accordingly.
In addition to financial donations, what else can you do?
Austin Pets Alive is seeking families that can foster cats and large dogs. In addition to cash donations, the organization can also use in-kind donations like large plastic or metal bins with lids. Space for some items is limited so check with the organization first before you gather supplies. If you can help with fostering or in-kind donations, check out their website for details.
The SPCA of Texas has also put out a call for foster homes to help care for the animals already in shelters and those coming from the Gulf Coast. You can sign up at www.spca.org/foster. The organization is also accepting financial donations and in-kind donations, including cat litter, litter boxes, towels, blankets, large wire crates, toys, treats, pet beds, newspaper and gas gift cards.
Donations of blood are also needed. You can't claim a tax deduction for giving blood but it sure is a terrific way to help. Find your nearest donation center by entering your zip code here.
Please keep in mind these are merely suggestions - we are not endorsing one charity over another. If there is another charity you prefer - please donate to them!
*Information courtesy of Forbes.com