Because of how well known it is, Red Cross is often the go-to organization people around the world opt to send their donations to. Americans' response to Hurricane Harvey is no exception. Numerous public figures and celebrities, including former President Obama, Oprah, and Kim Kardashian, have plugged Red Cross on social media. However, some activists, journalists, and organizations argue in favor of helping Hurricane Harvey victims by funding local groups instead. A website — NoRedCross.org — was even created for the purpose of providing information on alternative options.
The main argument against Red Cross is based on its response to similar natural disasters in the past. A 2015 ProPublica report documented how Red Cross raised close to half a billion dollars to help rebuild Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake, yet had built only six permanent houses. Red Cross officials insisted, however, that the organization's use of the funds was "entirely justifiable given the size and complexity of the Haiti program."
In addition, Red Cross' assertion that 91 cents out of every dollar donated go to relief efforts is a point of contention for many. According to a 2014 ProPublica report, however, the Red Cross spent an average of 83 cents per dollar donated on relief efforts over the previous five years.
If you're interested in donating directly to local groups working to help Harvey's victims, keep reading.
1. The Texas Organizing Project
The group's mission is to "improve the lives of low-income and working class Texas families through community organizing, and civic and electoral engagement." You can donate here.
2. Feeding Texas
Feeding Texas is a nonprofit currently helping hungry Hurricane Harvey victims by delivering food with mobile food banks. You can donate money here or food to any of their partner food banks throughout Texas.
3. Transgender Foundation of America
Members of the trans community are often some of the most heavily affected by natural disasters and additionally find themselves facing challenges due to their gender identities — such as issues on what bathrooms and showers to use at shelters. The Transgender Foundation of America has set up a disaster fund to help transgender people recover from Hurricane Harvey. Donate here.
RAICES is a nonprofit providing housing for immigrants who have been abandoned by ICE following their release from detention centers. You can donate here.
5. Black Women's Defense League
In collaboration with World on My Shoulders, the Black Women's Defense League has been speaking with activists to learn what specific materials are needed by the hurricane's victims and providing a list for their supporters. You can donate money to their efforts here.
6. Texas Diaper Bank
Formed by 10 United Methodist churches, the Texas Diaper Bank provides diapers for low-income babies and seniors. The group is currently on the ground helping those affected by Harvey. You can send a donation here.
7. Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies
Portlight helps people with disabilities by providing ramping and medical equipment during disasters. The group has been actively working to aid those impacted by the recent hurricane.
We have been working closely with the Houston Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, disability organizations, TX state government, the FEMA Regional Disability Integration Specialist and Partnership member organizations from across the country. Portlight has also joined forces with the Cajun Navy to optimize our shared commitment to rescuing people and with Trach Mommas to begin the process of getting disability supplies to people who need them to maintain their health and independence. We are also partnering with Anthem, and appreciate their generous assistance for our hotline and disaster relief efforts.
The organization has asked people to share its Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies Hurricane Harvey Disability Hotline: (800) 626-4959.
8. Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County
This nonprofit works to prevent and put an end to the issue of homelessness. Its website provides a list of currently open shelters for those who need a place to stay as a result of Hurricane Harvey. You can donate here.
9. United Way of Greater Houston
This organization's mission is to "transform individual lives and bring long-lasting, systemic change to tough issues, like family financial stability and academic success" by "providing life-saving services to meet our neighbors’ most basic needs, like food and shelter."
The group has created an emergency relief fund in response to Harvey and states that 100% of donations given to the fund will be used for aid. Donate here.
Any of the groups listed above would be a great option if you're trying to donate to an organization that's directly in contact with the people who need the most help after Hurricane Harvey.