Luke Church

Buddy, can you spare a dime?
Buddy, can you spare a dime?

When disaster happens and people are in need, the natural response is to want to help.  However, the level of destruction, the intensity of suffering and the magnitude of need is sometimes overwhelming.

The effects of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines have been reported extensively and calls for donations have gone out, many of them through social media.  Often, that is the only way we can feel like we are doing something substantive, by donating money.  We cannot all volunteer, either by going overseas or locally, to help.

Though the devastation is on the other side of the world, there are many opportunities to support those working on site and those providing relief.  But, in the rush to help, it is important to make sure your dollar goes as far as possible to touch the lives of those in unimaginable circumstances.  Many organizations, regardless of good intentions, may have burdensome administrative structures that dilute the effect of donations.  And, sadly, just as the urge to help is natural, so is the urge of some to scam.

Charity Navigator is a great source for those wanting to have an impact, to reach people in desperate situations, situations that often there but by the grace of God go you or I.

The mission statement of Charity Navigator:

Charity Navigator works to guide intelligent giving. By guiding intelligent giving, we aim to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation’s and the world’s most persistent challenges.

Charity Navigator is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization under the Internal Revenue Code and does not accept any contributions from any charities we evaluate.

You can find the best fit for you, to make sure your money goes where it will do the most good.

Another organization that is worth mentioning is Irish Aid.  This organization does not ask for donations, since it is a department of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  The main goal of Irish Aid is to “reduce poverty and hunger” around the world “on behalf of the Irish people.”

I mention Irish Aid for three reasons:

Irish Aid is working to relieve the pain in the Philippines.  An article on the efforts can be found at

I was introduced to the work of Irish Aid recently while attending a seminar on Irish culture and history moderated by Mick Moloney, an NYU professor of folklore and musicology and a performing Irish musician.  He lead a group of musicians to Viet Nam to perform and help in the support of services to those who are still suffering from the effects of the use of agent orange during the Viet Nam conflict.  One concert benefited parents of children with autism in Hanoi.

Irish Aid is an outreach of the government of Ireland.  It is encouraging to see a country exporting something other than aggression, conflict and corporatism.  Would that we all could have that attitude, to simply help, in a tangible, real way without thought of praise or recompense, to simply give.

Photo:  A survivor wipes his face under a Philippines national flag in typhoon ravaged Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into central Philippine provinces Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction and thousands of people dead.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)