When we hear about a crisis happening locally or internationally, we often want to offer as much help as possible. Sometimes, however, we can send the wrong type of donation at the wrong time, which is not helpful to an emergency response organisation. It can be difficult to know what the best donation is, whether it is monetary or used goods, so you might need some help along the way when choosing what, when, and how to donate.


If you are donating to a crisis response charity, you should be mindful of their operating hours. Many operate 24 hours a day for 7 days a week when there is a crisis, but will be closed when times are quieter. If you would like to find out what they require in terms of donations, the first place to look will be their website or social media platforms. Outlined below are the top tips on what, when, and how to donate during a crisis.

What and how to donate

This is arguably one of the most important questions to ask if you are deciding to donate to a charity. This is because donating the right items at the right time can help a charity immensely. Similarly, if you donate the wrong thing at the wrong time this can hinder the efforts of the charity, making it difficult for them to reach their specific goals. Below are more guidelines on what you should donate to a charity during a crisis.


Monetary donations are what many charities need and appreciate the most. And while they will not reject any goods such as used clothing or tinned foods, the monetary donation can go much further and help them to do much more for their cause. You should never donate more than you can afford to, and remember that every little bit can help to save a life or help a crisis response team. You can donate online or you could bring cash or a cheque into the charity itself.

Your time

If you simply cannot afford to donate money, you could donate your time. For example, you could offer to help them pack and ship the goods that have been donated. Or, if you have a local charity in mind, you could spend time helping out over the weekend, such as repainting a library at a children’s home or helping to feed and play with animals at a shelter. You could also offer your own skills to charity, such as bookkeeping or social media management.

Used goods and canned food

Many charities, even those dealing with a crisis, prefer not to be inundated with used goods and tinned food. These are useful for local charities but for those who are helping with international issues, it can be more expensive to ship these items to their organisation on the ground.  If you have clean, gently-used clothes, you can bundle them in a box and take them to the charity. For canned goods, be sure to check for any dents or rust before donating them.

When to donate

Knowing when to donate is important. This is because if you send donations at the wrong time, you might hinder the operation. Donating at the start of a crisis is a good idea, but charities need money for the duration of the crisis. If you would like to continue to support the cause, you can set up a debit order and send a donation each month until the crisis is averted.

Think about the long term

While charities do appreciate “reactive” donations in the short-term, they will often lose out over longer periods. This is because crisis response efforts will often take months or even years to alleviate, depending on the disaster. They will appreciate the help for a period of time which can be difficult to manage and stressful for everyone involved. Be sure to set aside an affordable amount so that you do not find yourself losing money each month.

Don’t dismiss short-term donations

Making a donation of clothes, goods or food as soon as you hear about a disaster is crucial in helping with immediate needs such as food, shelter, clothing and medical emergencies. So, if you are unable to afford to donate over a long period of time, you can donate to charities who are calling for emergency or urgent donations as a crisis is happening. A monetary donation, in this case, is highly valuable as it will allow the charity to get their team to the place of disaster as soon as possible.

Give as best you can

Any donation to a charity, NGO or NPO can help, no matter how small it might be. You can donate money, time, used goods, and canned foods. Be sure to think about long-term donations, as this will ensure that the charity can continue their efforts for as long as possible. Don’t dismiss the importance of short-term donations either, but ensure that you can afford to give the amount you have set aside.