GuideStar Urges Donors Not to Restrict Nonprofits When Giving to Disaster Relief

Unrestricted gifts do most good in long run
Release date: August 23, 2010
Refugees from the Pakistan floods line up for food

Washington, D.C., and Williamsburg, Va.—As millions of people displaced by flooding in Pakistan seek shelter, food, clean water, medical care, and other basic necessities, GuideStar USA, Inc.—the leading source of nonprofit information—urges donors to consider making unrestricted gifts to the disaster-relief charities now in Pakistan, or to give to the organizations' general disaster-relief funds rather than earmarking donations for Pakistan.

"People want to help," said Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of GuideStar. "They want to help the people they see on television and read about in the newspapers, and they want to help now. We applaud their generosity and hope they will give. But restricting donations to charities providing emergency relief can cause problems in the long run. Again and again—after 9/11, the tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina, and other disasters—we've seen cases where organizations couldn't use all of the money they received for a specific crisis, while needs elsewhere went unmet."

Relief organizations can't wait until donations start coming in to respond to a disaster; they have to get to the scene as quickly as possible. By giving to a general relief fund, donors give charities the ability to use their gifts where and when they are most needed.

"If you want your gift to be used in Pakistan, look for charities that have long-range programs already in place there and that will be participating in the long-range recovery," added Ottenhoff. "Don't restrict first responders by limiting your gift to efforts in Pakistan."

For a list of nonprofits working in Pakistan, go to and click on the link on the home page. Other nonprofits assisting relief efforts in Pakistan can contact GuideStar to be added to the list. You can also find lists of nonprofits working in Haiti and Chile as well as helpful tips for supporting disaster-relief efforts.

About GuideStar

GuideStar connects people and organizations with information on the programs and finances of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofits. GuideStar serves a wide audience inside and outside the nonprofit sector, including individual donors, nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, government officials, academic researchers, and the media.

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