AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

Financial Donations Are Often Better for Community Recovery

By Allison G. S. Knox
Edge Contributor

The recent wildfires in Boulder County, Colorado, are devastating to see. The photos show neighborhoods in partial or complete destruction with homes that are eliminated down to their foundations. From looking at the images, it is easy to see that residents have lost everything.

It is often a knee-jerk reaction to donate to help victims who have been directly affected by a disaster such as the Boulder County wildfires. In many cases, people donate their belongings, such as clothing, kitchen items, children’s toys and other items that would immediately help another family in need. 

Related link: British Columbia and Understanding Community Resilience

Many Donations Are Not Usable and Require Additional Effort from Emergency Managers

While these donations are well-intended, emergency management scholars argue against their use. Managing donated items becomes a very difficult enterprise since some of the donations sometimes aren’t usable and require further effort from emergency managers.

If you’re thinking about donating to the Boulder County wildfire recovery effort, consider donating money only, since monetary donations go much farther for families than actual items. Another option is to wait until Colorado emergency managers explain the specific needs of their communities.

Related link: Colorado Wildfires: Should We Reconsider Neighborhood Planning?

Allison G. S. Knox teaches in the fire science and emergency management departments at American Military University and American Public University. Focusing on emergency management and emergency medical services policy, she often writes and advocates about these issues. Allison serves as the At-Large Director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and as Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees with Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences. Prior to teaching, she worked for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. and in a Level One trauma center emergency department. Allison is an emergency medical technician and holds multiple graduate degrees.

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