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The Red Cross is probably the best-known emergency relief organization in the country—but they’re not necessarily the best. Accusations of mismanagement have plagued their responses to national and international disasters, and their name recognition (and easy text message donation system) can obscure worthy local and grassroots organizations.
As you decide how to support the relief efforts, consider not just where you give but what. Supplies are in great need, of course, but even if an organization has an Amazon wishlist, a straight-up monetary donation can allow them to respond with more speed and flexibility. See this Wired piece for more on why. (And please don’t send unsolicited donations of materials to any organization. Odds are they cannot use it.) Don’t forget that most nonprofits, even if they organize volunteers, still rely on staff to run—monetary donations help ensure that those crucial employees get paid.
Most organizations will allow you to earmark your donation specifically for Harvey relief, but consider making a general donation—if funds are needed for Harvey, that’s where your money will go, but unrestricted donations allow organizations to respond quickly and nimbly to the next disaster, too. And if it matters to you, check before you donate to see if your contribution will be tax-deductible. GuideStar has a robust guide to deciding where to donate here. (If you’re local, of course, you can reach out to these organizations about volunteering, too.)
In the immortal words of Mr. Rogers’ mom, “Look for the helpers.” Well, here are a bunch of them:
AmeriCares provides emergency supplies and medical care.
ICNARelief, also known as Muslims for Humanity, does a wide range of charitable work, including disaster relief.
Heart to Heart International coordinates aid distribution and offers medical support.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has been around for more than fifty years, offering food, water, and help in rebuilding efforts.
Team Rubicon “unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.”
United Way of Greater Houston addresses immediate needs like food and shelter as well as long-term recovery.
The Homeless Period Project gets menstrual supplies to homeless people, and those displaced and affected by the storm. (Two other local organizations—Aquí Estamos and Neta—are collected funds for these efforts, too.)
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund was organized by Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, under the umbrella of the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
S.H.A.P.E. Community Center is a community organization in Houston that works to “improve the quality of life for people of African descent (all people).”
Texas Diaper Bank distributes to babies, seniors, and disabled people.
Texas Workers Relief Fund is a charitable branch of the Texas AFL-CIO that “has been established to assist workers and their families in their time of need.”
Focusing on Vulnerable Populations
Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County is a community organization that works to protect the homeless and end homelessness.
Living Hope Wheelchair Association accepts monetary donations as well as donations of used wheelchairs.
Portlight focuses on helping people with disabilities, including in disaster relief.
South Texas Human Rights Center works to protect immigrant families.
Transgender Foundation of America, Houston is helping vulnerable trans, intersex, and genderqueer people affected by the storm
The Way Home works to end homelessness in Houston—they’ve partnered with several shelters in the area.
Animal Defense League of Texas accepts monetary donations and supplies—donated in person in San Antonio or via Amazon wishlist.
Austin Pets Alive has taken in hundreds of lost or displaced pets. They’re accepting monetary and material donations.
SPCA of Texas is helping coordinate animal rescue efforts.
Houston Humane Society is accepting monetary donations to help local animals affected by the storm.
Feeding Texas is a statewide nonprofit that coordinates and integrates with state and federal relief efforts. NPR also collected a list of Texas food banks in areas hit by the storm: Houston Food Bank, Galveston Food Bank, Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Victoria), Corpus Christi Food Bank, Southeast Texas Food Bank (Beaumont), Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley (Pharr), Brazos Valley Food Bank (Bryan), Central Texas Food Bank (Austin), San Antonio Food Bank.