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Eighteen reported tornadoes and violent storms raked through North Texas on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. More than a dozen injuries were reported. An estimated 650 homes were damaged, but there were no reported fatalities. Please consider making a donation to one of the organizations providing relief and longer-term recovery. Make sure to designate your gift to the appropriate fund specified for each organization below.
AMERICAN RED CROSS; The American Red Cross has set up shelters for storm victims at three locations. The American Red Cross has identified approximately 650 homes that were damaged in Tuesday's tornado outbreak. The agency will conduct a more thorough assessment on Wednesday and will coordinate the distribution of food relief and clean-up supplies. To designate your gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief, select ‘National Disaster Relief’ in the designation field.
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SALVATION ARMY; The Salvation Army quickly deployed two mobile emergency disaster kitchens to provide food, hydration, and emotional comfort to people in two locations as a result of tornado touchdowns.
SAMARITAN’S PURSE; Samaritan’s Purse is responding to a series of tornadoes that hit the Dallas/Fort Worth area on Tuesday. Staff and equipment departed from our U.S. disaster relief headquarters in North Carolina Tuesday afternoon. They will determine how we can help when they arrive on the scene.
TEAM RUBICON; In response to tornadoes touching down in Dallas – Fort Worth, TX, Team Rubicon is deploying a VERT (Veteran Emergency Response Team). The team will get set for relief efforts pending a good recon of the affected areas. They will also coordinate with local FEMA and VOAD representatives to begin developing work orders. To designate your gift to disaster relief, please type ‘US Disaster Relief’ in the designation field.
WORLD VISION; World Vision has deployed two disaster response teams to assess damage in Dallas and Tarrant counties. In addition, this week, 700 hygiene kits will be assembled by JPMorgan Chase volunteers in Salem, New Hampshire. The kits will be directed to World Vision’s response hub in North Texas for possible use in tornado-affected areas.
Don't let an unscrupulous charity take advantage of your goodwill. Find a charity with a proven track record of success with dealing with the type of disaster and in the region in which the disaster occurred. Avoid fly-by-night charities created specifically to deal with the new crisis. Even well-meaning new organizations will not have the infrastructure and knowledge of the region to efficiently maximize your gift. If you do feel compelled to give to a new charity, be sure to get proof that the group is in fact a registered public charity with 501 (c) (3) status.
Worried that your donation will go towards the charity's general operating fund or saved for a future crisis? This is a very understandable concern. Many charities do encourage donors not to designate their gifts so that the charity can decide how best to utilize the money, but depending on your confidence in the charity's ability to make that determination, you may want to tell the charity exactly how to use your gift. By designating your gift, you'll ensure that your donation will be used as you intended. Most charities with online giving portals offer a check box feature so that you can tell the organization how to spend your contribution. If you are mailing in a check, then write a note in the memo section of the check specifying that you want your gift spent entirely on the current crisis.
Be wary of fundraisers who pressure you to make a contribution over the phone. Never divulge your credit card information to someone soliciting you via the phone. Instead, ask the fundraiser to send you written information about the charity they represent and do some research on your own. Once you feel comfortable with the charity, send the organization a check directly in the mail, or give through their website, thus ensuring 100% of your gift goes to the charity and not the for-profit fundraiser.
Read Charity Navigator's Guide to Handling Telephone Appeals
As always, take the time to find a charity you can trust. Use our free financial evaluations to search for well-run charities worthy of your support. And be sure to follow up with the charity in a few months to find out (a) how your donation was put to use and (b) if the organization needs additional support to complete the recovery effort.
The inherent speed of online giving provides instant gratification to donors and offers charities immediate access to much needed funds. At Charity Navigator with the simple click of a mouse you can make a secure online gift to the charities we rate. Each transaction is processed by Network for Good, a trusted industry leader for online giving. Network for Good handled $24.5 million in contributions following the 2004 tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Pakistan Earthquakes.
Reprinted with the permission of Charity Navigator, www.charitynavigator.org, America's leading independent charity evaluator.