With natural disasters ravaging sections of the United States, from thousand-year floods in Louisiana to devastating fires in California, heart-rending scenes of horses in danger have many people wondering how they can help. Most charities agree that financial donations are the best way to make sure horses (and humans) get the help they need. Certainly if you’re a few hundred miles away, sending a big load of hay and grain over is out of the question. It’s tougher to prove that your dollars are going directly to the horses with cash, though. Before you send a check or open your PayPal account, pause to ask just where your money is going. How do you know if a charity is reputable?
The FTC provides consumers with a long list of ways to check a charity’s validity. Charities use a variety of common financial practices which can help you validate them, such as providing proof that your contribution is tax-deductible, registering as a charity with the state, or enrolling with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. This gives you an easy way to double-check where your money is going before you donate. Consider the extra few minutes you spend researching the charity as part of your donation to the rescue and recovery effort—you’re making sure the money reaches the people (and horses) in need.
Also, keep in mind that crowdfunding campaigns aren’t tracked for validity, and research the people behind the crowdfunding request thoroughly before you join in.
These are all great ways to vet a charity, but with urgent, high-impact disasters, you might find that a simple Google search is the easiest way to find a way to get a donation directly to horses in need.
For me to find out what agency is currently on the ground, helping horses in Louisiana, all I had to do was type “help Louisiana horses” into my searchbar. I immediately got multiple, up-to-date results. So thanks to a reputable equine website, Eventing Nation, I know that I can donate to the Louisiana State Animal Response Team, who are in charge of the horses sheltered at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Ascension Parish. I can also see other animal rescues in need of help thanks to a New Orleans Times-Picayune article.
There—all my vetting has been done by the journalists, and I can donate money to the people on the ground in the disaster zone, who need it right now.
In less urgent times, or when a tragedy is less visible on the news cycle than the floods in Louisiana, you’ll want to use the steps above to check out the charity before you answer their request for donations. Be smart with your dollars, and smart with your donations, when you decide to help horses in need.