Super Typhoon Haiyan has done its worst, literally, to the Philippines.
The archipelago nation took a direct hit from what many meteorologists are characterizing as the most powerful typhoon ever. Towns have been destroyed and it's feared that 10,000 or more could be dead.
"It is too early to tell what exactly we will need, but definitely after the relief operations there is going to be a lot of work in terms of reconstruction and rehabilitation, particularly for people who have lost their homes," Jose Cuisia, Jr., the Philippines ambassador to the United States, told Voice of America.United States relief agencies are heeding Cuisia's call. Organizations are asking the American public for donations to help their recovery efforts in the Philippines, as well as the preparations they are making for similar efforts likely to be needed after Haiyan hits Vietnam.
Remember, donations to U.S.-based nonprofits are the only ones for which you can claim a charitable tax donation.
U.S. organizations that are dedicating funds to the Philippines (and likely soon to other Asian countries that Haiyan threatens) include:
- CARE -- Donate online or call 1-800-521-CARE (2273). If you're outside the United States, call 1-404-681-2552.
- American Red Cross -- Donate online. If you prefer to mail a check, send it to your local American Red Cross chapter; be sure to designate "Philippines Typhoons and Flood" in the memo line.
- Salvation Army -- Donate online or text the word "TYPHOON" to 80888 to donate $10 and reply "YES" to confirm your donation.
- Catholic Relief Services -- Donate online or call 1-877-435-7277 or mail a check to P.O. Box 17090 in Baltimore, Md. 21297-0303.
Be wary of scams: Finally, be aware that scum are already out there trying to take advantage of this catastrophe. There are and will continue to be many new "charities" with the words Philippine Disaster or Typhoon in their names that will ask for donations.
Do not give to these groups.
A newly formed nonprofit for this disaster has not been vetted by the Internal Revenue Service. It takes weeks, months or more for organizations to get 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status approval from the IRS. Without that IRS imprimatur, your donations are not tax deductible.
True, a handful of newly formed groups might indeed send help to the disaster area. Even if that happens, however, you cannot deduct your gift if the group does not have its official nonprofit tax status when you give.
Sadly, however, most of these newly formed typhoon "charities" are scams. They are created by con artists looking to take advantage of tragedies, preying on your compassion and taking your well-intended money for their own selfish and illegal uses.
So check out every charity, either at the IRS' online nonprofit search tool or via private philanthropy trackers GuideStar and Charity Navigator, before making a Typhoon Haiyan or any donation.