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Don’t restrict your disaster donations

To the editor:

It is truly awesome to see the power and goodwill of the American public when disaster strikes domestically. We are blessed with many people that will do whatever they can for a neighbor in need, whether that is pray, donate or volunteer.

However, it is surprising how quickly skepticism joins the conversation. Will the specific people you want to help, get your help? So, in response to that skepticism, many people choose to restrict their gifts to a particular event in a particular area.

As a former executive director of the Red Cross and a current professional consultant for nonprofits, I wish to educate on the challenge of restricted gifts during a disaster. I am asking you to think before adding “For the Harvey victims in Texas” or some similar statement to the comments of an online or other type of donation.

In Hampton Roads, we have amazing groups like the American Red Cross, Operation Blessing, Dominion Energy and Catholic Charities that are deployed and helping.

Support to any of these organizations or dozens of others will be significant. However, they will share that they are working with very limited information.

To explain using a historical reference, the Hampton Roads Chapter of the ARC had refugees from Hurricane Katrina showing up locally a month after the event. Due to all the giving restrictions that donors had made, it was challenging to find funds to help those who were displaced and wound up here in Hampton Roads.

I ask you to have faith in these organizations, and if you make a gift, to do just that without restriction or condition. Is that not what a gift is?

When you empower these organizations, they can make your dollar stretch three, four or five times as far and provide economic impact in the communities affected.

Thank you for demonstrating that the American people are truly great people.

Patrick Belcher

Suffolk