Days before the California wildfires began, NPR wrote a piece titled “What The Pileup Of U.S. Disasters Means For The World.” It discussed donor fatigue and the difficulties many aid organizations face in the wake of multiple disasters. Fewer and fewer funds are raised as each new piece of bad news comes in. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the destruction and give up on making a difference. We know that when too many things are going wrong at once, keeping up and staying involved can feel impossible.
But we also know that our community is full of compassionate and concerned people who are looking for opportunities to help. So here are six ways to stay involved, despite the pileup:
Start small Read an article. Talk to a friend. Research organizations you might want to give to. Take one small action each day to remind yourself that, while the need is still there, you’re doing something about it. Keeping yourself engaged and informed can be as easy as a click, a phone call, or a Google search.
Seek out good news In the fog of fatality reports and photos of destruction, it’s easy to think that everything is getting worse. Remind yourself that relief efforts are working by looking for the good news amidst the bad. If you have a hard time finding it, check out MedShare’s social media for #GoodNewsTuesday posts.
…But keep yourself informed on the bad news, too Yes, it’s hard to read and it’s hard to watch, but the bad news reminds us of the urgency to stay involved. Every time you read an article about the death toll or homes destroyed or hospitals in crisis, it’s a reminder that you have the power to help. Your actions can change things for the people you’re reading about, and staying informed is the first step.
Volunteer If you feel bogged down by the scale of these disasters and you think you can’t possibly make a dent in the destruction, you can. Taking an active role in relief efforts is a great way to stay involved. Making time in your schedule to volunteer –even once– can make a huge difference. You’ll be amazed at how volunteering your time and skills can change your outlook and remind you that you have the power to make a difference.
Donate consciously You probably have a thousand emails in your inbox from organizations asking for money. You’re probably sick of the ads cluttering your Facebook page flashing “donate now!”. There are so many places to give, it can be hard to choose. But quick research can help you decide which organizations will use your gifts wisely. Take the time to learn more about the group you’re supporting. How are they spending donor dollars? What is their Charity Navigator score? Are they regularly reporting impact? When you donate consciously, your gifts make a bigger impact.
Spread the word Talk about what’s going on, it’s as simple as that. Talk to your family, talk to your friends, talk to your coworkers. Ask them how they have gotten involved. Suggest favorite volunteer spots and share articles that helped you better understand what’s happening on the ground. Keep the disaster, the response, and the necessity to act at the forefront of their minds. If you’re enthusiastic about making a difference and staying engaged, you can convince others to be too!
Visit http://www.medshare.org/#get-involved to stay involved with MedShare.
Photo Above: MedShare is responding to disasters in Puerto Rico, Texas, St. Thomas, Dominica (pictured here), Sierra Leone, Nepal, Mexico, and Northern California. MedShare’s Disaster Relief efforts would not be possible without the support of volunteers, donors, and our local communities.