Since in the past few months we’ve had a few different instances where we’ve posted charities on Weaving Wyrd with the tornados in the south and Japanese earthquake and tsunami, I figured I would take a moment to talk about how I evaluate charities. These are strictly my criteria, and not representative of the other authors on the site.
Here are my criteria:
- I check the Charity Navigator page. I will not list one-star charities, and prefer to list 3-4 star charities where available. This matters less for local charities, since those don’t always get listed.
- I strongly prefer charities that have a mechanism that allows for online donations.
- I strongly prefer charities that do not only help a religious or cultural subset during a disaster (e.g., there are charities that only help Catholics, which I don’t have a problem with in general, but it also won’t get them listed).
- They need to not be created for the specific event in question in the last few years, unless they are directly partnered with a larger and better established organization.
- They need to have a statement saying that they are specifically engaged in the domain or area in question (e.g., in the case of a disaster they need to list that specific disaster on their website).
- Charities must not use charity as a cover for attempts at conversion.
These criteria apply pretty much across the board for charities that I prefer, both in disaster and non-disaster situations. In disaster situations I will also take to listing local charities where I don’t necessarily know all of the above, but have seen evidence that they are at least sufficiently on their feet to be responding.
On the Salvation Army and Red Cross
Two organizations that I will almost always list in some capacity for disasters are the Salvation Army and Red Cross. Neither of these groups are what I would consider ideal for a variety of reasons, but they are also ubiquitous, very well established, are frequently some of the first ones on a scene, and often have some of the widest avenues open for possible donations. They frequently are the first charities organizations reach for when they are going to do charitable offers, such as Blizzard’s $10 in-game pet for World of Warcraft.
The particular issues with each of them are also generally fairly well known, and people have usually made a decision on their positions with respect to them one way or the other. So I will almost always list these two organizations and some of the various avenues I hear about to donate to them for people who would like to donate to them or who would like to use a deal that’s associated with them.