Hurricane Harvey: How to Donate Wisely and Avoid Scams



Hurricane Harvey has been wreaking havoc in Texas since it made landfall on Friday August 25, 2017, with heavy rains, damaging winds and flooding expected to continue for days. It began as a Category 4 hurricane when it reached Rockport, Texas, and has stalled over the state, which accounts for the record-breaking rain, predicted as high as 50 inches of rainfall for the entire storm by some forecasters. 

Already the damage to both people and property has been devastating and will continue to rise, along with the catastrophic floodwaters. Especially hard-hit is America’s fourth-largest city – Houston – that did not require residents to evacuate before the storm. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called the storm “one of the largest disasters America has ever faced.” Tens of thousands of people will be displaced due to the storm, and many charities are stepping in with relief efforts on the ground. 

If you are interested to donating toward Hurricane Harvey disaster relief, it’s best to do a bit of research to make sure that the charity is legitimate and will have the most impact per dollar donated. 

A great resource to use when deciding which charity to donate funds to is Charity Navigator ( This website has compiled a list of highly rated charities that will be meeting the needs of the victims of the storm. Some renowned national charities listed on the website include: The American Red Cross, Heart to Heart International, Samaritan’s Purse, and Americares. The American Red Cross has also put out a call for volunteers. 

Some charities focus on general relief, while others focus on food, shelter, children’s needs, and animal needs. Food and shelter will remain high on the list for some time to come. If you have an interest in providing specific relief, see what charities focus on in their relief efforts. 

The Charity Navigator site also includes local charities in the Texas area, including the Houston Food Bank, Food Bank of Corpus Christi, Houston Humane Society, and San Antonio Humane Society. In addition, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has established a relief fund at the Greater Houston Community Foundation, which connects donations to non-profits. 

How to Avoid Harvey-related Charitable Scams 

Unfortunately, with most legitimate disaster relief efforts come charity scams. According to the FTC website you need to be careful to do your homework to make sure your money is going to a reputable charity and will be used wisely. The website warns to: 

  • Only donate to charities with a proven track record.
  • Make such you designate your dollars to Hurricane Harvey disaster relief, so that money does not go into a general fund.
  • Do not trust emails and social media posts, as some may be scams.
  • Check out the charity’s rating on a reputable site such as the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance (, Charity Navigator or Charity Watch ( 

The Better Business Bureau issued a press release saying that it’s already seen crowdfunding appeals that are dubious, and asks that consumers report any scams to the BBB ScamTracker ( or the Texas Attorney General’s hotline at 800-621-0508. 

With the right information and research, you can avoid scams, and donate money that will go a long way toward meeting the needs of individuals who are suffering from the sustained impact of Hurricane Harvey. 

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