Typhoon Haiyan: 3 tips for giving

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(Photo courtesy LDS Church)

Volunteers answer phones to help with the impact of Typhoon Haiyan. (Photo courtesy LDS Church)

Typhoon Haiyan has impacted the lives of 9.5 million people in the Philippines, displacing an estimated 600,000 individuals. The overwhelming needs of the survivors are enough to compel Utah Valleyites into action, but not all well-intentioned help is equal.

Here are a few tips for transforming your empathy into effectiveness:

1. Monetary donations are best

While blankets, toiletries and breast milk might be useful, you never know for sure. Rather than sending supplies, send a check. Personal shipping costs typically aren’t the best use of funds, especially when relief organizations often purchase things locally to support, rather than undermine, disaster zones’ already suffering economies. These organizations also often have a better handle on the locals’ real needs.

In many cases, monetary donations are better than volunteers as well, especially in the case of international disasters. It’s natural to want to get your hands dirty and help out in person, but sometimes that’s a misguided approach. Do your homework before you do your service.

2. Give to established, reputable relief agencies

All efforts aren’t equal. All relief agencies aren’t either. Make sure your generous funds go to an efficient organization that will put them to the best possible use. Websites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar can help you make an informed choice.

3. Don’t forget

When disaster strikes, the media strikes too. With constant news coverage of losses, survivors and relief efforts, it’s easy to remember to give. But months go by and donations wane and many needs are left unfulfilled. Set up a personal reminder six months from now to research, reassess and donate again.

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Samantha Strong Murphey is a lover of greenery, glitter and goat cheese, an advocate of media literacy, human rights and karaoke for all. She earned bachelor's degree in communications from Brigham Young University and is a former writer and editor at Utah Valley Magazine. Now, she works as a full-time freelance writer and blogger based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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