A 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal on Saturday, killing more than 3,800 people and injuring over 7,100. Those numbers are still rising.
It might seem as though the devestation is too great and too far away for us to do any good, but that way of thinking can make us apathetic towards those in need. It prevents us from making a true difference.
Here are five meaningful ways you can help the people of Nepal today:
1. Donate to a Reputable Charity
In the early stages of disaster relief, donating money is the most effective (but least glamorous) way to make a difference. In order to maximise the positive effect of your contribution, make sure the charity you select is reputable and has a proven track-record of efficiently delegating its funds. Hundreds, if not thousands of supposed “non-profits” come out of the woodwork in the aftermath of natural disasters. To ensure your donation ends up in the right hands, use search engines such as Charity Navigator to read up on the transparency and effectiveness of the organizations you consider.
An ideal charity has the support of the local communities it helps, and utilizes local resources and organizations as much as possible. This promotes self-sufficiency and continued progress after a designated project ends.
If you haven’t chosen a charity yet, consider donating to these organizations:
Seva Foundation – The charity will send 100% of donations to locally run partner hospitals in Nepal.
Global Giving – The charity will first focus on helping first-responders meet survivor’s immediate needs for shelter, hygiene products, food, and clean water. After the initial relief stage, the fund will partner with local organizations to create long-term, self-sustaining recovery efforts.
2. Avoid Telemarketers & Email Solicitations
Be wary of phone calls and emails asking for relief donations. These inquiries happen most often in the first two weeks after a major disaster. These calls and emails might pressure you into making a donation before you have the time to fully investigate the organization. The best donations are informed donations. Never give out your credit card information to someone soliciting you via phone or email.
3. Don’t Send Supplies
Donating money can feel impersonal, so it’s easy to understand why sending a box of supplies might feel like a more direct, tangible contribution. However, sending supplies is rarely practical or efficient. Most impacted communities lack the infrastructure to properly receive these goods, much less efficiently distribute them to survivors.
Many established charities partner with companies to acquire hygiene products, new clothing and bottled water at discounted prices. This means that the money you would spend on a toothbrush to send in a supply box could potentially provide ten or twenty toothbrushes to victims, if that money were donated to a charity instead.
4. Keep Tabs on What Your Donation Accomplishes
It takes time for charities to access problems, delegate funds, and mobilize relief workers. While you shouldn’t expect immediate results, donors have the power to hold organizations accountable for the work that they do. Follow the organizations you donate to on social media and follow up every few weeks to see how donations are being put to use. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, speak up! Tell the charity what you don’t like and tell those you know to send their donations elsewhere.
5. Spread the Word on Social Media
We each carry around the potential to influence thousands – even millions – in our hands every day. Use social media to your friends about what’s happening in Nepal and the ways they can contribute. It’s so easy for us to forget about the terrible things that happen around the world, just as long as they’re not happening to us. Social media helps to bridge that gap and bring stories closer to those who can help. Use the hashtag #nepalearthquake to keep the conversation going.
Images via Niranjan Shrestha / Associated Press