Hurricane Matthew is gone, and I am one of the lucky Jax Beach residents who came home to a house that was not damaged. Other parts of the Beaches community were not as fortunate and were heavily damaged and some homes were destroyed. While most people have house insurance, and some have flood insurance, the daily costs that are incurred by those who have been harshly impacted by hurricane Matthew are not as readily available up front when needed.
As residents of Northeast Florida are working towards getting our Beaches cities to return so some semblance of normalcy, I have seen GoFundMe pages set up to help our neighbors. This is a great tool (as are similar platforms) that enables us to help our neighbors, but as a person who specializes in nonprofit management and accountability, I had to stop myself from just clicking on the “Donate Now” button to go through the list of questions I tell my students to go through before they donate to any organization or cause:
- Is this a nonprofit or an individual? There is a higher degree of accountability when it is a formal nonprofit organization, but research on the nonprofit still needs to be done.
- Does the request say how the funds will be allocated if for a neighborhood or community?
- Who determines how the donations will be used and how they will be divided among the noted recipients?
- Has a separate account for the cause been set up or are all donations going into an individual’s account?
- How will to total amount of dollars raised, the number of donors, and what the donations were able to produce be reported back to donors?
And finally, it is always important to remember that if you are donating to an individual or a group that is not a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, you cannot deduct the donation on your taxes.
So please, I implore you to go out and help your neighbors, be it by helping to clear debris, offer your washer and dryer for them to use, provide shelter, or just inviting them over for a hot meal. If you are able, please donate money as well. Just be sure that it will be used as you intended it to be used. Donor intent is always paramount.