There are hundreds, if not thousands, of groups to which you can donate in the midst of a disaster relief project. Some are massive organizations with complex processes. Some are simple groups with a singular focus.
This is a good thing, because the devastation that a disaster brings demands a wide-ranging, multi-pronged approach. It is the best way for humans, who are limited by their imperfection, to cover all the bases. It's an inverted version of "divide and conquer."
This is a bad thing, too, when it is approached or considered wrongly. When you see a lot of different entities working within the same arena, it is natural to start to make comparisons, which then lead you to turn helping into a competition - which it most certainly is not. That being said, it is quite frankly very human to do this, because the world around you is comparison based: marketing demands comparison, and marketing is what develops the content that assails your senses and informs your biases. Unfortunately, requests for donations to a cause end up seeming an awful lot like marketing (which makes sense - it's the way to get attention), leading you to respond to them like you would to marketing.
So, what do you do? How can a person like yourself avoid the natural tendency to turn even charitable causes and philanthropic endeavors into a competition? (A competition in which, by the way, everyone is going to lose.)
It's not simple to do, but it is simple to understand.
Don't make it about you.
It makes sense, at least a little. It's how you started this journey. You (hopefully) weren't planning to donate "for yourself." You were looking into donating in response to what you'd heard other people were going through. You wanted to pitch in, help make a difference, and do unto others. Then you started to take a closer look, and you decided you didn't want to waste your money, to seem foolish in your giving, to be the one who backed the wrong horse - and suddenly it was all about you.
Those people who are in need, the ones whose lives have been forever changed by forces outside their own control, they're the ones who inspired you to want to help in the first place. Their plight, their stories, their pain - focus on these, and the competition of it starts to fade away.
But not completely.
Right? Because when your donating is focused on those affected, there are still measurable, comparable facts that seem a lot like competition. You can still measure, you can still compare, the number of people who are getting help and the amount of help they are getting. And if you're honest, you know that the moment competition becomes part of this, people start to lose - and there isn't room for losing in responses to tragedies like this.
So, don't make it about you. Simple to understand, hard to do.
Even harder? Don't make it about them. (Wait, what?)
Make it about Jesus.
I'm not saying you should send Bibles to hungry people who need beds. I'm not saying that you should give to a local congregation to help fix a regional catastrophe. I'm not even saying you should give exclusively to faith-based relief organizations. I'm saying, instead, that your donating will win if you make it about Jesus.
When your donating is about Jesus, the competition, the comparison, and the one-upsmanship all fade away. So do any temptation to give up or become cynical or procrastinate in your giving. In Christ, there is no room for these - not because he's demanding and has an impossible standard, but because he is the opposite of those temptations. He is the one who could win all competition and yet made himself the lowest of the losers. He is the one with the positive outlook because he knows that sin, evil, death, pain, and catastrophe have been defeated. He embodies and empowers hope because there is no need for despair when the generous and merciful Christ is your focus.
He is the winner of all competition who has never held a trophy, because he gave it to us to share with others.
Bring your donation to the cross of Jesus. Hold it out to him, and listen as he says to you, "Use this to share my love, would you?" Turn around, and invest it, quickly and carefully, not for you, not for them, but for him. If we could all do this, we'd do as well as imperfect humanity possibly can.
There is no best donation - until, in and through Jesus, all donation is made best.
1 Peter 4:10-11 | Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
- Pastor Kent Reeder