After Robert Kennedy’s assassination, Fred Rogers recalled how his mother taught him to deal with tragedy in the news. She told him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Whether it’s a hurricane destroying beloved homes or a gunman devastating innocent lives, there are always people willing to help. Sometimes, help comes in seemingly simple ways, like writing a check.
Even these efforts can go a long way. They don’t change the past, but they can contribute to future solutions. Here’s what really happens to these donations, and how to know if you’re giving to the right organizations in your efforts to help.
Florida students accepted millions from celebrities like Oprah
Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Columbine, Colorado. And now, Parkland, Florida. Disasters like these are nothing new, but they hurt a little more every time they happen.
After Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School experienced one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history, Oprah, the Clooneys, and other celebrities donated millions to support survivors’ efforts to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.
Next: Who are Parkland donations really supporting?
March For Our Lives
Following most disasters, celebrities and average citizens alike search for the best places to send their funds. Parkland students unintentionally made this step a little easier.
This time, donations big and small were given in support of March For Our Lives. The Washington, D.C. event, organized by affected survivors and their families, will focus on gun control, calling for an end to gun violence in schools across the country.
Next: Celebrities always find ways to help where they can.
Donations poured in after Parkland — but it wasn’t the first time
It’s impossible to prepare for a disaster’s aftermath, especially when you know it isn’t going to be the last one. Most donations are monetary, following both natural and manmade disasters, but there are always other ways to help, if you have the resources to do so.
Some celebrities got creative when supporting Hurricane Katrina victims. Some volunteered, provided housing for families who lost their homes, and held benefit concerts.
Next: A campaign created after this disaster raised over $3 million.
Over $3 million went to support Las Vegas in 2017
In October 2017, celebrities like Mike Tyson and members of the Chainsmokers donated to a GoFundMe campaign organized by Clark Country Commission Chair Steve Sisolak.
By December of that year, the Las Vegas Victims Fund became a registered nonprofit corporation to help distribute the many donations provided following the tragedy. Donations aided those injured as well as their families.
Next: How do celebrity donations actually work, though?
What happens when Oprah donates to disaster relief?
When celebrities like George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey donate in the emotionally charged aftermath of tragedies like these, what really happens to the money they pledge?
Many of them consult a financial advisor before making donations to learn the best organizations to offer their funds. Many media organizations also offer this information along with their disaster coverage for those who want to give but won’t do so unless they know their money will go to the right place.
Next: Is it safe to donate to a nonprofit after a disaster?
Do nonprofits make good use of the money they’re given?
Maggie Neilson, co-founder and CEO of Global Philanthropy Group, told Billboard she’s usually not too skeptical about big donations being misused.
“Most non-profits are under so much scrutiny,” she said, “and I think the quality of their boards are so high that donations are being used appropriately for the most part.”
Next: Even if it’s going to the right place, is it really your best option?
Is donating money the best way to help?
Following the tragedy in Las Vegas, officials urged people across the U.S. to donate blood to aid survivors — something that could offer much more short-term relief than cash at the time.
Though it might depend on the specific circumstances surrounding a disaster, money is usually the best way anyone can help. It allows organizations to put donations toward the resources that matter most in a specific area — and it supports local economies.
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