Best Way to Help Hurricane Harvey Houston Flood Victims

What’s the best way you can help victims of the Houston Flooding due to Hurricane Harvey? We’ll show you where you can donate to make the biggest impact, how you can donate with a text, and what you shouldn’t donate. We’ll also show you how to join as a volunteer if you are able to help in person.

After a major disaster one of the things you may be tempted to donate is food, blankets and clothing, but that’s not the best way to donate to Hurricane Harvey victims. The heartbreaking images coming out of Houston are spurring an outpouring of support and donations across the U.S. and the world. If you are as moved to help as many of us, you need to know where to donate for the biggest impact, and the fastest way to get help to people in Houston.

We’ll help you understand where you can donate with a tax deductible donation, how to watch out for Hurricane Harvey scams and other important donation tips to get help to Houston as fast as possible.

Don’t Send Food, Blankets & Clothing to Houston

Don't donate water, clothing or food to Houston.
Don’t donate water, clothing or food to Houston.

When looking for the best way to give to Houston flood victims, you may be tempted to raid your closet and pantry to send food, clothing and blankets to people in need, but that’s not the best way to donate to Hurricane Harvey victims. Clothing, Shoes, blankets, stuffed animals, pet food, medicine, bottled water and other physical goods are among the worst things to donate in a disaster.

For immediate needs, companies like Anheuser-Busch is better equipped to get massive amounts of water to Houston than your or me, or even Fedex and UPS. The brewery already donated over 155,000 cans to the Gulf Coast area after Hurricane Harvey. “Putting our production and logistics strengths to work by providing safe, clean drinking water is the best way we can help in these situations” said Bill Bradley, Anheuser-Busch’s Vice President for Community Affairs.” One truckload is already in Houston and two more are on the way to the American Red Cross in Arlington, Texas.

Cash is the Best Donation for Hurricane Harvey

When it comes down to making an immediate and impactful donation, cash is at the top of the list. There are 6.7 million people in the Houston metropolitan area, a growing number of shelters and more displaced people than many of us can imagine. Instead of shipping physical goods from home or buying items specifically, you can donate money to reputable charities who can turn it into immediate action on the ground. In addition to offering the best bang for your buck, these donations may be tax deductible.

Don’t Run Off to Help in Person

Unless you are a trained professional or in touch with people and organizations who need your help, you shouldn’t jump in your car and drive to Houston. We are seeing an amazing outpouring of support form people in Houston helping out friends and neighbors with boats and vehicles capable of driving through tall standing water, but if you don’t know what you are doing you could require assistance and take away from officials helping other victims.

The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster already dispatched volunteers to the site and is coordinating with other organizations on the ground. If you are not already a volunteer with them you can share information, but they caution, “Thank you for your interest in volunteering to assist those affected by Hurricane Harvey. At this time, the situation is not conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone, however the need for volunteers is inevitable.”

How to Donate to Hurricane Harvey Victims

Texas National Guard soldiers help Hurricane Harvey victims in Houston Texas. CC BY-ND 2.0 Texas Military Department on Flickr
Texas National Guard soldiers help Hurricane Harvey victims in Houston Texas. CC BY-ND 2.0 Texas Military Department on Flickr

Now that you know what is best and what not to do, here’s a list of places and ways you can donate to Hurricane Harvey victims, including by text. We’ll start with the established players that you can trust to route your donation to the right place and cover other places that you can look to donate to people in Houston.

Charity Navigator recommends donating to, Houston Food BankFood Bank of Corpus ChristiHouston Humane Society, or San Antonio Humane Society.

This is not an exhaustive list of where you can donate to Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas, but it is a very good start. While established charities often have operating costs that do eat into donations they are equipped to put your money into action fast.

Check Other Charities Before Donating

Before you donate to a charity, especially a pop up one, you should check them out on Charity Navigator. Here’s a specific look at charities providing Hurricane Harvey support that allows you to see how they rate and how impactful your donation is. Newer charities may not be equipped to deliver the same level of support due to a smaller infrastructure.

It’s a good idea to be optimistically cautious about new charities that you haven’t heard of. There are sure to be scams set up to take money away from Houston and funnel it into people’s pockets.

Don’t Donate to Unsolicited Calls or Visitors

If you receive a phone call or a knock on the door asking for money for Hurricane Harvey and Houston flooding, be very cautious. If you get a call and you do want to donate, you should call the organization back directly to make sure you are donating to the organization that the caller claims to represent.

The same goes for someone who comes to your door asking for donations or selling something to benefit Hurricane Harvey victims. You’re going to be better off donating directly to one of the organizations listed than to a stranger at your door.

Carefully Consider Donations to People

If you chose to donate directly to an individual your donation isn’t likely tax deductible, but the bigger issue to watch out for is scams designed to take money away from helping people in Houston.

You can find campaigns on GoFundMe related to Hurricane Harvey, which is a good start and includes a mix of charitable organizations and normal people looking for help rebuilding their lives after Hurricane Harvey. Do your homework to make sure any donation you make directly to an individual is going to someone in need.

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