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According to the Sacramento Bee, the death toll from Hurricane Sandy in the U.S. is more than 100. Homes were destroyed. Subway tunnels flooded. Millions lost power. Schools, businesses – even the New York Stock Exchange were brought to a standstill.

And the soliciting for donations is underway.

I’m talking about the nonprofit agencies that help the victims – or claim to.

Certainly there are people hurting who need immediate help, and that requires money. But unscrupulous charities also have been known to take advantage of donors’ generosity in times of crisis – which is why it’s best for you, your pocketbook and the storm’s victims if you pause just long enough to make sure you’re giving wisely.

Charity Navigator, the nonprofit watchdog for the business of charity, just issued a list of 10 highly rated charitable organizations that have rushed into help the storm’s victims both in the U.S. and abroad. (Recall that Sandy was a hurricane before it collided with a polar air mass along the East Coast.) That list is a good place to start. It includes:

American Red Cross

AmeriCares

World Vision

Best Friends Animal Society

Save the Children

Feeding America

Operation USA (helping people impacted in Haiti, Cuba and the U.S.)

Direct Relief International

International Medical Corps (helping people in Haiti)

Convoy of Hope

Charity Navigator also offers a list of tips for wise giving. Among the advice: Don’t send supplies unless a charity specifically requests them. Although you may be inclined to want to send bottled water, canned goods, clothing, etc., save those donations for local food and clothing drives. In times of crisis, transporting your goods to the disaster area is a logistics problem in itself, and it requires a charity’s staff to receive, sort and verify the safety of the materials. Often those agencies can be more effective collaborating with large retailers to purchase supplies at a significant discount – meaning the charities can help more people if you simply send them money.

 

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