September 16, 2017

Donating to 'Racist' Disaster Relief Organizations

Red crossWith so many natural disasters in the news recently, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see a number of articles and social media posts condemning disaster relief organizations and suggesting that those of us who donate to disaster relief organizations should stop doing so. The first one I saw claimed that the Red Cross is "racist" and not worthy of our support. It did not provide any basis for this accusation but approached it as if it was common knowledge. Another argued that no national or international organization was capable of effectively assisting with disasters and that we should only support local groups. The most recent one I saw claimed that the Red Cross had too much money, was inefficient and likely corrupt, and that we should not support them.

I'm not sure what to make of these claims. When a disaster strikes, many of us want to donate to help the victims. We recognize that our local, state, and federal governments do not do nearly enough to help people impacted by natural disasters. We recognize that even the victims who had insurance typically have a very difficult time obtaining the compensation for their losses in a timely manner despite the fact that they have been paying their insurance company on time. I think it is natural that we'd want to help, part of our humanistic impulse perhaps.

Most of the guidance out there about how to donate and where to donate seems to say the same thing. For example, we are told that money is usually preferable to items. The lists of charitable organizations almost always include the Red Cross along with some local groups. Most of it does not rate each organization on various social justice metrics. I wonder if that will change.

I still think that taking care of people following a natural disaster should be one of those jobs that our government should do rather than hoping various charitable organizations, including faith-based organizations like the Salvation Army, will help out. But until they take on that role, I suppose we'll need to continue to support disaster relief organizations. With that in mind, here's some information I ran across on some options.