Supporters of nonprofit organizations ask this question when faced with a specific need, challenge or opportunity in a community.
At Alexander Haas, we hear the question especially in the wake of natural disasters such as the hurricanes of the recent weeks. We’re all moved emotionally by the scenes of flooding in Texas following Hurricane Harvey and in the Caribbean and Florida following Hurricane Irma.
We feel helpless when faced with the shock of the overwhelming devastation.
“What happens next?”
You see the strength of nonprofit organizations and their donors who spring forward to address human service needs for all impacted.
“Nonprofits embody the best spirit and values of our nation.
They help millions of individuals and families daily,”
– National Council of Nonprofits
This is most obvious in the days following disasters.
Scan Facebook or news articles and you see a dramatic increase in nonprofit organizations joining together to help one another.
Regrettably, along with all the good that occurs through nonprofit efforts following natural disasters, there is the opportunity for individuals and groups to take advantage of the situation. There are scam artists and impromptu groups that form to receive contributed funds and those you’re trying to help never see the benefit.
Before volunteering or providing a financial contribution, here are a few points to remember when considering your response following disasters such as the recent hurricanes:
- Participate first with the organizations you currently support or for which you currently volunteer. You already know and trust these organizations. Most have systems in place with regional and national networks to channel your volunteer efforts and your financial contributions to areas most impacted.
- If you do note a new or different organization that addresses a need you’re interested in and if you are not familiar with the organization, visit sites such as charitynavigator.org or www.guidestar.org to do your own research on the organization’s effectiveness.
- Be cautious of the groups that spring up instantly. While they may be legitimate, they may not have “bandwidth” in staffing or structure to handle an influx of funds. They may not be prepared to pass along the funding to those who need it most. This is more complicated with the rise of “crowdfunding” opportunities – proceed cautiously.
One of Alexander Haas’ clients, Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal), located in downtown Houston, is an important source of support for Houston area residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Whether or not you’re a person of faith, stories of neighbors reaching out to help one another inspire us all. We’re sure to hear more stories of individuals and nonprofit organizations springing in to action.
The Dean of the Cathedral, Barkley Thompson, shared the sermon he delivered just a few days following the storm as area residents returned to their homes, and he gave Alexander Haas permission to share it with you:
So, in the face of the hurricanes, “What happens next?” It’s up to us!
*With appreciation for this insight to The Very Reverend Barkley S. Thompson, Dean, Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal), Houston TX