Donations and Volunteers
In a disaster we need your help!
However, large amounts of volunteers and donations converging on one place can be difficult to organize. To assist with this process, we have created a Disaster Volunteer Coordination Manual for local levels to use in order to coordinate volunteers efficiently as well as set up, activate and demobilize a Volunteer Reception Center. The manual, as well as a training guide, can be located on this page.
Here are some ways you can help in a disaster:
- Join existing non-profit organizations before arriving in the disaster area. Immediately following a disaster, a community can become easily overwhelmed by the number of generous people who want to help. Affiliating with an established organization will help to ensure you are appropriately trained to respond in the most effective way.
- Georgia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster is an organization whose mission is to foster communication, cooperation, coordination and collaboration among all volunteer organizations. If your organization is not part of Georgia VOAD, consider joining. This will help the response of the disaster be more efficient and will reduce duplication of efforts and services.
- Do not self-deploy until a need is identified and the local community impacted requests support.
- Wait until it is safe to travel to the community affected and for volunteer service opportunities to be identified.
- Arrive self-sufficient with food, shelter, personal hygiene, medical needs and reliable transportation with gas for the return trip, if possible.
- Understand that volunteers are not covered by any extra insurance from federal, state or local government or the insurance from the homeowner being helped.
- Consider joining a Community Emergency Response Team to prepare personal household and neighborhood for emergencies
Be Patient and Flexible
- Recovery lasts longer than media attention. There will be volunteer needs for many months after a disaster from cleaning up debris and tarping roofs to rebuilding homes and lives. Volunteers may be asked to step into a variety of roles depending on needs.
- Monetary donations are the most effective method of donating. It offers voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the needed resources and delivers money into the local economy, helping business recover.
- Unsolicited donated goods, such as used clothing, household items, and mixed or perishable food, may not be needed. Receiving agencies often have to sort, package, transport, warehouse, or redistribute items that can't be used, redirecting valuable resources away from meeting the needs of disaster survivors.
- Donate through a trusted organization. Financial contributions to a recognized disaster relief organization are the most effective donation to make.
- Critical items needed to support disaster survivors change rapidly. Some items needed immediately after disasters are not needed several weeks later. When organizing a disaster relief supplies collection, please consider the following:
- Arrange transportation and verify the place to bring donations. Do not assume that unsolicited relief supplies will be transported at no charge. Best practice is to build relationships with a reliable source of transportation before a disaster.
- Call to obtain a list of items needed BEFORE collecting. Items that are needed immediately after a disaster are not needed several weeks later.
- Ensure donated items are packed well and clearly labeled. Specific content lists should be taped to the outside of each box. Clothing, if requested, should be new and sorted by gender, size and season.