Stacey Leasca
September 21, 2017

Right now the world can feel like a pretty overwhelming place. Faced with a seemingly endless thread of natural disasters, figuring out how to help can seem like an uphill battle.

But it’s key to remember that no assistance is too small, and that it’s OK to pick one thing at a time to focus on. However, it's also important to understand the most effective ways to donate your time, money, and efforts, and to ensure you've chosen a reputable charity in the first place. Disasters, sadly, tend to bring out both the best and the worth in humanity, which often includes bogus charities that look to prey on human kindness.

Luckily, guides like Charity Navigator exist to help us sort through the plethora of charitable organizations in each location. On its site, Charity Navigator rates organizations based on where they use their donation dollars, their reputations, transparency, and accountability. On the site users can even find “hot topics,” which are typically larger disastrous events in need of your help right now.

Below, we’ve listed a few ways we found to help, big and small, using Charity Navigator as our guide for each of the world’s most devastating recent natural disasters.

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Hurricane Harvey

On August 25, Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas coast, causing what has been estimated to be billions of dollars in damage. While the state will likely take years to rebuild, the recovery efforts are well underway. And although it’s easy to give to large national organizations, it may help Harvey victims most to give to smaller, local charities in need.

Charity Navigator lists the Houston SPCA, Houston Humane Society, Houston Food Bank, Food Bank of Corpus Christi, and the San Antonio Humane Society as several great options to give your money or time to during this difficult process.

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Hurricane Irma

On September 6, Hurricane Irma made landfall across the Caribbean and destroyed entire islands in its path. Next, it moved on to Florida, where it caused massive damage, flooding, and even several deaths.

Since Hurricane Irma impacted several different regions, Charity Navigator has listed dozens of options to choose from including Save the Children, an organization dedicated to creating lasting change for kids in the U.S. and around the globe, Helping Hand for Relief and Development, a Muslims for humanity organization, and Direct Relief, which does just as the name implies.

Furthermore, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, has been hard at work with recovery efforts in the Caribbean and is ensuring 100 percent of donations to his charity, Virgin Unite, goes to the people affected by the storm.

Related: How to Help Victims of Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean

Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Hurricane Maria

Though the storm clouds have barely passed for the victims of Hurricane Maria, which was a category 5 storm when it hit Dominica and Puerto Rico, they are already in need of your help. As The Weather Channel explained, accredited relief funds like Dominica Hurricane Relief Fund and the Red Cross are the best routes to take for now, both of which are highly rated on Charity Navigator.

Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Mexico City Earthquake

The people of Mexico are still reeling from the impacts of two back-to-back major earthquakes, and they desperately need your help. According to The New York Times, there are several local nonprofits in need, including Topos México, a nonprofit rescue brigade looking for survivors, the Mexican Red Cross, and Fondo Unido México, which is part of the United Way network. 

Related: A Heroic Dog Named Frida Is Saving Lives in Mexico After the Earthquakes

For more information on how you can help with these natural disasters and others, visit Charity Navigator’s homepage and be sure to check out the “hot topic” section at the top.

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