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: We've been given 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's approach to disaster relief different from other nonprofits?
A: Here's how GlobalGiving works: the GlobalGiving community is made up of large and small nonprofits from more than 170+ countries. When disasters strike, we are committed to connecting people and companies to vetted, locally driven organizations that are immediately
responding to needs in their communities. Our priority is always to support the work that the affected community believes to be most important.
Immediately following most natural disasters, we know that large international NGOs specializing in disaster response are, in many cases, best equipped to provide initial support in affected areas. When determining whether to support these NGOs, we consider our relationship with them, their history in the country, and their track record from previous disasters. As we assemble a portfolio of disaster relief and recovery projects in the weeks and months that follow, we seek to balance efforts to ensure a transition from initial relief efforts toward long-term recovery work by locally based organizations, including projects aimed at building resilience in the face of future disasters.
Generally, we believe local organizations are best positioned to assess and to respond to needs in the long term, so we listen carefully to what local organizations deem to be most critical. Our view is that locally run organizations can nimbly and effectively provide for immediate and ongoing community needs. Getting funds to them benefits communities directly and quickly. You can learn more about our approach here.
Read more about how this approach has helped after other disasters:
Q: What's the benefit of GlobalGiving's approach for donors?
A: For donors, GlobalGiving provides a 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 this fund. Every NGO that receives grants from this fund must commit to sending reports to donors at least quarterly, and we typically conduct site visits to check on the work being done. Donors can subscribe to receive those specific updates and from our site visits, so they can track their money and see what has been accomplished. (Sign up for updates during your donation or using the box at the very bottom right of this page.) An NGO itself, GlobalGiving also works to help companies give to the relief projects that are important to donors. 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.
Q: Beyond just fundraising support, what other support do you provide local organizations responding to this disaster?
A: Beyond funding and network connections, we'll also be supporting organizations in impacted areas with technical and capacity support in the coming weeks and months.
What this will look like will depend on the feedback and requests we get from our partners, but we can give you an example of what that looked like during the Ebola crisis.
In the peak of the Ebola crisis, we were able to connect our nonprofit partners in West Africa with a tech company that built them custom mobile applications to help track and monitor Ebola cases and provided smartphones to them free of charge to use those technical solutions. We also helped connect them with media sources to tell their stories, as well as other organizations on the ground so that they can collaborate better and learn from each other's experiences.
Q: How will you keep me updated about how my donation is used?
A: Immediately after a disaster we submit reports every few weeks describing the efforts that are being supported through the fund, detailing which organizations are receiving funds. As time goes on, we'll share specific stories, photos, and videos from the efforts. You can see we're still reporting on how funds were used for past disasters:
Q: How long will it take for my money to get to disaster-affected areas?
A: We'll make disbursements from the fund as soon as possible, which means your donation could be on the ground in a bank account in 7 days or less. (This is rare for most organizations that aggregate funds as we do!) As the work turns into a long-term recovery effort, we'll disburse funds on a monthly basis.
Q: I saw that there is a fee on donations through GlobalGiving. Can you explain that fee?
A: GlobalGiving will retain a 12% nonprofit support fee and 3% payment processing fee for donations to this fund. Here's how the nonprofit support fee breaks down: 2% goes to the administrative costs of running GlobalGiving, and the rest of the fee (10%) goes to work like identifying, vetting, and supporting organizations—most of which are local organizations. We also have a team that will work to mobilize corporate, institutional, and individual donations to these groups (many are too busy or small to have the time or connections to do this on their own). Our ability to drive further support from companies turns the GlobalGiving fee into an investment that pays off for local groups on the ground.
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.
If 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: Thank you very much for 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. Along with 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 than with unrequested material donations. Cash donations provide medical and other life-saving services now, and rebuild infrastructure later. This interesting infographic helps explain why sending material goods, despite the good intentions, can be costly and sometimes harmful. If you are with a company looking to
donate in-kind supplies in bulk, please visit Good360.org.