Help Is On The Way: How to Help Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan

Friday, November 8, 2013 is a day many won’t soon forget. The powerful and deadly Typhoon Haiyan roared though the Philippines—impacting millions. As water surged and wind gusts exceeded 150 miles per hour, devastation was imminent. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Typhoon Haiyan left nearly 13 million without food, shelter and access to water—and aid to the area is still desperately needed. Perhaps you glanced at the television in disbelief or read about it online; either way you have decided to get take action. In a statement, President Obama said the United States is fully committed to helping the Philippines recover, and is providing $20 million in immediate aid, but the need is massive.

1. Host a Telethon

Telethons are a great and safe way to mobilize community involvement. Work with a local radio or television station and literally answer the call for those wanting to pledge funds for those in need. NBC Channel 2 in Houston contacted UNICEF to host a telethon and within hours volunteers were answering phones, people were donating and help was on the way. Telethons are popular calls to action because they offer immediate ways to supply aid and reach thousands of viewers though a trusted source—their local television station.

Smaller nonprofit organizations that may not have a large amount of volunteers to support a televised telethons can utilize similar resources like a phone tree system or by using Reverse 911. By coordinating time for volunteers to answer the phones and inform potential donors about what the organization is doing to support the disaster relief effort, you ensure that each potential donor receives the appropriate information about donations for the Philippines and encouragement to inform their friends and family via word of mouth.

Still wondering about the impact a telethon could have on your disaster relief drive? Within five hours UNICEF was able to raise more than $100,000 in disaster relief donations—your nonprofit could be next!

2. Host a Benefit Concert

typhoon haiyanMost cities are filled with a local musicians looking to gain exposure.  Reach out to bands and put together a benefit concert! What a wonderful way to raise funds while bringing the community together for a time of healing.  Sell tickets and give the funds to a credible charity that would direct the funds where they need to go. You can hold this event at a local bar or if you are aiming for a more family friendly environment scout out parks as a possible venue.

Planning a concert does not have to be daunting.  However, you want to keep the lines of communications open with all participants. Are the acts getting paid? Is the venue free or do they require a small deposit or percentage of donations? Make sure you secure any paperwork associated with hosting an event such as any forms donors need to sign or receive and the name of the organization receiving the donation.  You can also use free social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, and Vine to invite friends to your event, make a donation offer available for individuals check-in at the venue, share video clips from the participating artists and to announce how much money was raised at the end of the night!

3. Donate Online

This may seem simple, but people often forget to check the reputation of the organization seeking funds and end up donating to someone looking to gain from the misfortune of others. Federal and State organizations like the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) have published news release and websites dedicated to disaster relief fraud to help you avoid scam artists. Don’t fall for it. Make sure you donate to a well-known organization that is going to donate all collected funds to their designated area.

Visit the websites of organizations like The American Red Cross, World Food Program USA and Child Fund International (based in the Philippines) to find out how you can donate and what your money will be used for. These organizations typically supply food and water, soap, medicine, chlorine tablets, as well as search and rescue efforts to hard hit areas. If you are still on the fence about who to donate to, ask family and friends for referrals before giving out your private information. You should also do an Internet search for credible organizations.  World News has a list of reputable organizations that will put your charitable donation to good use. To find an organization, please click here.

4. Evaluate the Need

Before you gather shoes and clothes, take a moment to contact the charitable organization you would like to help and ask them what their exact needs are.  While offering to send clothes and food is always a great first step, the organization’s relief strategy may be a little different and incorporate items  that you may not have direct access to, like healthcare and housing.  Doing a little research about the organization’s disaster relief efforts will help you determine whether or not dropping off a box of clothes will slow down the recovery process or provide much-needed support.

You can also choose to make a monetary donation, which would allow the organization to choose what support effort needs the funds the most.  In these cases, your donation is more than just a mere $10.  It could divided up to provide counseling services for traumatized children, temporary shelter to those sleeping in storm ravaged streets, vaccines and hygiene kits to dying adults and other life saving essentials to survivors—so don’t ever say, “It’s just $10.” Even ten dollars can make a difference. Don’t wait, there are multiple ways to donate including text, mail, or online. To find an organization offering disaster relief for Typhoon Haiyan survivors, please click here.

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Image courtesy of Business Insider.

Vannessa Wade

Vannessa Wade is the founder and CEO of Connect The Dots PR in Houston, Texas. An alumna of the University of Houston, Wade specializes in public relations and community development programming for nonprofit organizations and corporate businesses and has been featured in numerous newspaper, television and radio segments.

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