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As hurricane season begins many along the Atlantic coast have seen the destruction left behind from Hurricane Dorian. From the Bahamas up into North Carolina many have had their homes destroyed and lives altered. Although many people watching the news feel compelled to help in any way they can, it can be overwhelming to decide which charity to support. There is a growing number of organizations responding to the emergencies that natural disasters cause, however, understandably,  it can make people unsure of how to go about lending their time or money.

If you’re unsure about how to help, here are a few tips.

The first thing you should decide is whether you’d like to support a local, national, or global organization. Each group has a unique set of expertise. One of the biggest disaster relief nonprofits is the Red Cross. While there have been concerns in the past over their effectiveness during previous disasters, the Red Cross operates everywhere and are currently on the ground in the Bahamas working to help the community.

National groups such as the Salvation Army and a local organization, The Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation are also present, helping to give directly to those most affected by Hurricane Dorian.

Take into consideration timing. Would you like to feel that you’re helping people immediately or would you rather provide support over the long term? Things such as food, water, and shelter are needed right away, however relief efforts can continue for years. Once you decide and set a priority for yourself, research and find the groups doing the type of work you care most about.

It’s important to follow the results after you make a contribution. Most donations are given quickly after the disaster. Make sure to seek information that can help you make the right choice when landing on an organization. You want to know things such as how a charity has spent the money they’ve received in the past, if there was any money left over, or if the funds have made a meaningful difference in the lives that are trying to be helped.

Many community groups will release updates on our they are allocating funds they’ve received from donors. There are a number of very reputable foundations that provide details about the work they’re doing and describe the response taking place. GuideStar is a wonderful source of information regarding results related information.

While intentions are usually good, make sure that they’re actually yielding positive results. Do a bit of homework before donating what you can spare so that you can have confidence that your contribution is making a real difference.