Hurricane Maria: Frequently Asked Questions
We are so grateful for the generosity shown by the GlobalGiving community in response to Hurricane Maria. We're also glad to see donors asking important questions to make sure their donations have the biggest impact possible. The following are answers to frequently asked questions about GlobalGiving's response:
Q: What's your charity rating?
A: GlobalGiving has been awarded the highest possible rating by Charity Navigator, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and GuideStar. You can click on these logos to verify our rating.
Q: Where and when did Hurricane Maria hit?
A: Hurricane Maria hit the small Caribbean island of Dominica on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 as a Category 5 storm, and then battered the U.S. Virgin Islands. The powerful storm made landfall in Puerto Rico on early Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 as a Category 4 storm. Maria—the strongest hurricane to directly hit Puerto Rico since 1932—slammed into the southeastern side of the island with winds of 155 mph, and it hit areas already reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which struck just days earlier.
Q: How is Hurricane Maria impacting people in its path?
A: More than 4,000 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, according to a Harvard University study. Lives were also lost to the storm in Dominica and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hurricane Maria destroyed and damaged hundreds of thousands of homes and structures, according to officials. Maria decimated electrical lines, and millions of Puerto Ricans were without power for months after the hurricane hit. Residents told GlobalGiving about 20% of the island was still without power, six months after the hurricane.
A: All donations to this fund will support relief and recovery efforts in Caribbean regions affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. The fund will help first responders meet survivors' immediate needs, including the provision of shelter, medical care, food, and clean water. Once initial relief work is complete, this fund will transition to support longer-term recovery efforts run by vetted, local organizations. If you are interested in donating to a fund that will cover the greatest needs of Hurricane Irma survivors, both inside and outside of the Caribbean (including Florida), please visit our Hurricane Irma Relief Fund.
Q: What's GlobalGiving's history in the impacted areas?
A: GlobalGiving has longstanding relationships with many partners in Caribbean, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, who are responding to hurricanes in the region. Our regional partners already have relationships and structures in place in the affected communities.
Q: What makes GlobalGiving different from other nonprofits?
A: Here's how disaster recovery at GlobalGiving works: the GlobalGiving community is made up of large and small nonprofits from 175+ countries. When disasters and crises strike, we are committed to connecting donors to vetted organizations that are immediately responding to needs in the impacted communities. We often support international or regional first responders in the initial stages of relief. However, we believe local, community-led organizations are best positioned to assess and respond to needs in the medium- and long-term, so we listen carefully to what these local leaders deem most critical. Our view is that community-led organizations possess critical knowledge about their communities and can nimbly and effectively navigate unique dynamics in their region. Getting funds to them benefits communities directly, quickly, and with longer-term impact. Learn more about our approach.
Read more about how this approach has helped:
Q: What's the benefit of GlobalGiving's approach for donors?
A: For donors, GlobalGiving provides a trusted way to help quickly and effectively without having to do a lot of research. Donors can support both immediate relief and long-term recovery with donations to our relief fund. Every nonprofit that receives funds must commit to sending reports regularly, and we typically conduct site visits to check on the work being done. Donors will receive updates on progress reported by GlobalGiving’s nonprofit partners.
Q: How does GlobalGiving work with companies and foundations?
A: GlobalGiving helps companies give to relief and recovery projects that are important to employees, customers, or other stakeholders. Many companies use GlobalGiving to track and match employee donations to disaster relief efforts, amplifying employee impact and driving further support directly where it's needed. We also facilitate grants to specific organizations and manage ongoing disaster grant programs for companies and foundations like Facebook and the Omidyar Group.
Q: How will you keep me updated about how my donation is used?
A: Depending upon the scale of the disaster we will provide updates within weeks of a significant disaster, and at a minimum quarterly, to donors who provide email addresses. These updates include information showing the efforts supported through the fund, including the names of the organizations that are receiving funds. As time goes on, we'll share specific stories, photos, and videos from these relief and recovery efforts. You can see we're still reporting on how funds are being used for long-term recovery operations related to past disasters:
Q: How long will it take for my money to get to disaster-affected areas?
A: We'll make disbursements from the Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund as soon as possible, which means your donation could be on the ground within a week or less. (This is rare for most organizations that aggregate funds as we do!) Our commitment to local nonprofits and medium and long-term recovery means we are deliberate about how we disburse donations. For relief Funds that raise less than $1 million, our goal is to disburse all contributions within 12 months. For larger disasters, we commit to disbursing at least 50% of Fund balances raised within the first year, with additional contributions to be directed to support priority needs and vulnerable communities in years two and three. All donations to Funds will be disbursed within 36 months.
Q: I saw there is a fee on donations to GlobalGiving's disaster funds. Can you explain that fee?
A: As part of achieving our nonprofit mission to accelerate community-led change, GlobalGiving covers its costs in a variety of ways. We retain a 12% nonprofit support fee and 3% payment processing fee for donations to our disaster funds. It may initially be confusing to donors that we retain fees. But GlobalGiving is much more than a crowdfunding website. In order to sustainably provide value to impacted communities, we retain this fee to cover our staff costs in identifying, vetting, and making thoughtful decisions regarding the stewardship of donor contributions. In addition, we provide ongoing support to community-led organizations so they are more resilient in the face of the next crisis. We also work to mobilize corporate, institutional, and individual donations to our nonprofit partners, many of which are too busy or too small to have the time or connections to fundraise on their own. Our ability to drive further support from companies turns the GlobalGiving fee into an investment that pays off for local nonprofits and the communities they serve.
The individual projects posted by our nonprofit partners responding to disasters are assessed a 5-7% nonprofit support fee (plus 3% processing fee) depending on whether they are registered in the US, UK, or internationally. Learn more about our fees.
Q: How do I know I can trust my donation to GlobalGiving?
A: GlobalGiving is a top-rated (4-star) charity on Charity Navigator. We are also accredited by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. We've been recommended by experts in thousands of articles, including these:
Most importantly, our nonprofit partners have reinforced the value of our approach time and time again:
“We’re thankful for GlobalGiving’s leadership in supporting local long-term disaster recovery, and we’re grateful for the trust and collaboration we have come to expect from the GlobalGiving team,” said Daniel. “GlobalGiving’s support enables us to say ‘yes, we can help’ to our neighbors who’ve heard ‘no’ far too many times. GlobalGiving’s approach is worth investing in; it should be considered a model for the future of disaster recovery collaboration.” – Imani Daniel, Executive Director, St. Thomas Recovery Team
Finally, at any time you're not happy with how your funds have been used, we also offer the GlobalGiving Guarantee.
Q: Can I donate goods, such as bottled water or medical supplies, through GlobalGiving to support relief efforts?
A: We appreciate your desire to give what you have in order to help people in need. GlobalGiving does not have the capacity to collect in-kind donations on behalf of our nonprofit partners. Based on the research of the Center for International Disaster Information, we recommend that individuals give cash and not in-kind donations after disasters. Through cash contributions, relief organizations can do more good for more people, with greater speed and sensitivity to emerging needs than with unrequested material donations. Cash donations help provide medical and other life-saving aid now, and rebuild critical infrastructure later. This infographic explains why sending material goods, despite the good intentions, can be costly and sometimes create a secondary disaster. If you are with a company looking to donate in-kind supplies in bulk, please visit Good360.org.