As scenes of utter devastation make their way to Western airwaves, many of us are sitting in front of our laptops, wondering how we can help the earthquake victims in Nepal. The death toll from the 7.8 magnitude quake continues to rise, with the most recent count above 4,000 lives lost.
If you don’t have rescue skills or the ability to travel to Nepal — hopping on a plane often isn’t truly helpful anyhow — what can you do to help? The best answer is usually to donate to organizations working on relief efforts.
Since every dollar counts, we looked into ways to give that will maximize your contribution. These tips will help your donation go further and ensure the funds reach their intended recipients.
PayPal Waives Transaction Fees on Donations to Select Nonprofits
One way to make the most of your donation is by giving through PayPal, which is facilitating donations to organizations that are providing rescue efforts following the Nepal earthquake. PayPal not only makes it easy to give, the service is also waiving their normal fees, so 100% of your donation goes directly to the charity you select. (Without this waiver, the recipient of your donation would have to pay a transaction fee if you gave through the platform.)
To donate, go to PayPal, select your favorite organization, and follow the simple directions to send your contribution straight to the charity of your choice. The PayPal Giving Fund, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, will distribute the funds to the organization you choose.
Eligible organizations include the following nonprofits:
Doctors Without Borders delivers emergency medical services to people in crisis, including those suffering after natural disasters. The organization also works to aid people in warn-torn and epidemic-stricken lands. Their website says 87 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to program work and they received a 93% score from Charity Navigator, a website that evaluates nonprofits.
Direct Relief focuses on providing medical care to people in disaster-stricken areas where medical infrastructure has been destroyed. It was ranked by Charity Navigator as one of the top charities to donate to, having a 99% score and flawless rankings for accountability and transparency.
AmeriCares is mobilizing a response to help deliver donated supplies through locally-based providers. For every dollar donated, they deliver $20 in aid, including medical and humanitarian relief supplies. The organization earned a 93% score from Charity Navigator.
Other nonprofit organizations that you can donate to via PayPal without transaction fees include: The Salvation Army, International Medical Corps, GoodWeave, Borders, charity:water, Waves for Water, Team Rubicon, American Red Cross, Care, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, World Food Program USA, Save the Children, Habitat for Humanity, Global Giving, Oxfam America, Mercy Corps, and UNICEF.
While PayPal is a popular way to transfer funds, another option for avoiding fees is donating directly to the organization of your choice via their website’s credit card option (if they offer one).
Facebook Will Match Your Donation to Nepal
Facebook announced on Monday that it will match any donations through its platform, up to $2 million. This is another effective way to help your donation multiply.
If you log into your Facebook feed over the next few days, you’ll see a message at the top that allows you to donate to International Medical Corps, Facebook’s choice charity. The organization is delivering medical care and supplies, including hygiene kits and water purification tablets, according to Facebook’s Nepal Earthquake Support page.
What’s the Best Way to Evaluate Charities?
Since PayPal doesn’t endorse any of the groups they’re waiving fees for, they encourage all donors to carefully consider an organization’s mission statement and read through their website to find out how donations will be used before donating.
Another good source is Charity Navigator, which lets you see how organizations use their funds. It also offers a handy ranking of charities that have pledged to help in Nepal, which includes many of the organizations on PayPal’s list.
During times of crisis, fraudsters always look for ways to take advantage of well-meaning people. Don’t fall for any scams! Follow these tips to make the most of your money.
Do Your Research: Make sure the charity is a well-established, IRS-designated charity. Check on Charity Navigator and other sites such as Guide Star to see just where your donation goes and how it is used.
Designate Your Donation: If you want your donation to go directly towards Nepali quake relief, make sure to designate your donation for that specific purpose. If you don’t, it could go into the organization’s general fund or be put away until a future disaster. Many charities prefer donors don’t designate their funds towards anything in particular to allow them the freedom to put money where it’s needed and be flexible in their plans. However, it’s up to you to decide whether you want your money spent on a specific disaster or if you believe the organization will make good use of it without such a designation.
Seek Out the Charity Yourself: With scammers sending out unsolicited emails and making telephone calls, don’t donate through organizations that contact you. Instead, go to an organization’s website (or PayPal or Facebook) and donate directly to the charity through official channels.
Consider the Cause: Not every organization will use your donation in the same way. Consider whether you’d like to aid with short-term or long-term relief. Would you prefer your funds provide food and water, aid search crews in their efforts, or rebuild shattered cities? The choice is up to you.
And of course, once you’ve done your part, don’t forget to keep your receipt from any donation you make to file as a tax deduction next tax season.
Your Turn: Will you donate to organizations helping with relief efforts in Nepal? What’s your preferred way to give?
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.