Guidelines for helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

September 12, 2017

Guidelines for helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

  • Consider giving money, rather than sending items—especially immediately following the event.

After a natural disaster, communities need to set up infrastructure to manage all of the resources needed to transport, store and distribute goods needed for recovery; they are not prepared to handle all of that “stuff” right away. Until those systems are in place, give cash. That way organizations can buy exactly what is needed when it is needed.

Keep in mind that the money used to ship items—especially heavy ones like liquids or canned food—could be sent directly to local organizations who could then purchase the items locally, thus strengthening the local economy.

And remember that every donation helps; if everyone gave $5 or $10 the food banks would be overflowing.

  • When giving money, give to local organizations as much as possible and check out the organizations on a reputable website like Charity Navigator, which rates organizations on effectiveness.

Giving to local organizations enhances the chances that your donation goes directly to victims; large national organizations are excellent for coordinating immediate rescue efforts, but haven’t proven very effective at long-term recovery efforts. Give to local groups that are on the ground working directly in affected community—groups like food banks, animal rescue organizations and groups providing fuel or housing.

  • Once recovery efforts have started and infrastructure is in place, identify groups that are asking for specific items and verify that they can receive packages and deliveries. If unsure, donate cash.

Some groups accepting cash donations after Hurricane Harvey:


Houston Food Bank:

A number of food banks will be aiding the affected region. Consider donating money instead of food, as it allows a food bank to use your donation most efficiently. Please remember that every donation helps; no donation is too small.

Feeding Texas:

Consider donating money instead of food as this will avoid complications of sorting and distributing various food items.

The Houston Food BankGalveston County Food Bank, and Corpus Christi Food Bank all accept online donations.


Save the Children:

Save the Children is providing relief supplies and services to help children and families in shelters and other victims of Hurricane Harvey.



The SPCA of Texas is organizing evacuations of pets in Texas (including 123 cats from a shelter in Corpus Christi) and offers resources on pet-friendly housing for evacuees.


Greater Houston Community Foundation, Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund:

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner established a Harvey relief fund at The Greater Houston Community Foundation. The organization connects donors with a network of nonprofits and innovative solutions in the social sector.


SBP, based in New Orleans, got its start rebuilding in St. Bernard Parish after Hurricane Katrina. The organization provides advisory services to local leaders and nonprofits, and deploys Americorps members to do mucking, gutting, and rebuilding. The organization focuses on using efficient processes to speed recovery.