photo courtesy of Shane Ely

How to Help in the Wake of Hurricane Ian

by Denise Scott

With so many charities seeking donations after Hurricane Ian, how do you decide what items to donate, or which organizations will do the most good with your money? Consider local relief funds in the most hard-hit areas that are dedicated to helping their own communities.

Sarah Owen is president and CEO of Collaboratory, formerly known as Southwest Florida Community Foundation. The organization serves Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Hendry and Glades counties. She said community foundations are coordinators and connectors for a wide variety of local nonprofits that already know their community best.

“When a disaster hits, we coordinate getting the dollars to the front line immediately,” she said, “so the front-line workers are not worrying about fundraising.”

The best thing to donate? Money. “Everybody’s goodhearted when gathering supplies and sending them, but the infrastructure is not there to support it,” she said. “We may have a stadium filled with water, but need insulin.”

While it’s prudent to research nonprofits through GuideStar or Charity Navigator, Owen said you can skip that step when donating to a state fund or community foundation. “We make sure it goes to reputable organizations,” she said. “It lets the donor know their money really mattered.”

If you’re wondering if it’s too late to make a difference, Owen said the need is long term. “It will be just as important six months from now as it is right now.”

SW Florida Emergency Relief Fund
Partnership between Collaboratory (formerly Southwest Florida Community Foundation) and United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades.
To volunteer:

Collier Comes Together Hurricane Fund
The Collier Community Foundation’s fund benefits Southwest Florida nonprofit relief efforts and programs to distribute funds where needed most, quickly and efficiently at no administrative cost.

Charlotte County Disaster Relief Fund
The Charlotte Community Foundation’s fund provides financial assistance and resources to Charlotte County residents impacted by Hurricane Ian.

Volunteer Florida & The Florida Disaster Fund
The State of Florida’s lead agency for volunteers and disaster donations. You can also easily donate $10 or $25 by texting “DISASTER” or “DISASTER25” to 20222.




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