Typhoon response tips: Send money, and watch out for scam artists

Chris Barrett, professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University and author of an American Enterprise Institute paper on U.S. food assistance programs and the book “Food Aid After Fifty Years: Recasting Its Role,” cautions people that, while needs are vast in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, it is important to only donate reputable companies.

Barrett says:
“The best way to help out is to donate cash to any of the many reputable, effective international humanitarian response organizations. The needs vary by community and family: shelter, water, food, health care, etc. The field-based response teams are best placed to judge what is most needed and to channel resources toward those who most need and can benefit from the assistance.

“Their primary constraints are likely to be cash to buy and deliver supplies, and to pay to put staff on the ground safely to ensure that resources are being used effectively. Timely response is essential to avert public health problems due to water and sanitation disruptions, as well as to ensure that the most vulnerable populations – pregnant and lactating women, infants and young, and the elderly and ill – don’t suffer from exposure or interrupted food access.

“Unfortunately there are also scam artists who prey on people’s charitable instincts at times like this. So, if you’re asked for a donation and don’t know the organization, check them out at www.charitynavigator.org to verify their credentials and that the group makes good use of your donations. At least 80 percent, and preferably 90 percent, of donations should be used for programming.”

Relief at Cornell University