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Gulf Oil Spill Disaster
What to Consider Before Donating to Help

Updated 2010

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion of April 20, 2010 has resulted in millions of gallons of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Coastal ecosystems and the fish, birds and people that depend on these formerly pristine areas for their livelihoods have been seriously harmed. Before rushing in to make a contribution, please consider the following:

This is a man-made rather than a natural disaster and those companies responsible for it are likely to be legally obligated to pay for the cleanup and economic damage caused to the people and animals harmed. British Petroleum (BP) says it "will pay all necessary and appropriate clean-up costs" and "is committed to pay legitimate and objectively verifiable claims for other loss and damage caused by the spill."

The U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and other government agencies are taking an active role in dealing with this crisis. The latest information about the government's response efforts is available at www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.

By far most of the costs of this disaster will be covered by the businesses responsible for it and the government. Before contributing to a charitable organization make sure that it is fulfilling a need that is not already being met by business or the government.

CharityWatch announces its top-rated list of charities which are providing assistance or advocacy related to the recent Gulf oil spill crisis.

Center for Biological Diversity
(A)
Environmental Defense Fund (A-)
Friends of the Earth (A-)
Natural Resources Defense Council (A-)
Nature Conservancy (A-)
Oxfam-America (A-)
Resources for the Future (A)

CharityWatch, a leading charity watchdog that issues letter grade (A+ to F) ratings of nonprofit groups, identifies the above listed charities, which are providing help in this crisis and receive an "A" or "B" grade based on the portion of their budget going to program services and their fundraising efficiency. Contact the organizations above for information of specific activities now underway. Note: Links will open in a new window.

Top-rated charities perform favorably in relation to CharityWatch benchmarks:
1) A charity should spend at least 75% of its budget on program services.
2) Charities should spend no more than $25 to raise $100.

Donors may also wish to support local efforts to provide health and human services to victims of this crisis such as United Ways or Catholic Charities. Note: CharityWatch focuses its ratings on national charities.

As with any charitable contribution, Americans wanting to help with the Gulf oil spill should send contributions to only those charities with an established track record of helping people in this region.

Related Articles:
CharityWatch Tips for Giving Wisely

What You Need to Know to Donate Safely Online

 
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