Relief or Rubbish? Worst Disaster Donations

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

When disaster strikes, communities are often overwhelmed by a tsunami of misdirected generosity. In fact, some professional disaster responders cite unsolicited donations and swarms of untrained volunteers as the hardest part of disaster relief. Learn how you can really help during a recovery effort.

What percentage of items donated after a disaster cannot be used?

In a rush of generosity, people donate items like odd articles of clothing and perishable food that can't be used by the victims -- to the tune of 60 percent.


Which of the following items was NOT among the strange and useless donations cited in an NPR story about donation waste?

Unfortunately, relief agencies find that some people confuse disaster relief with an opportunity to "recycle" any old household item.


What term do disaster responders use to describe the glut of unusable donations that pour into disaster areas?

Disaster relief agencies end up spending critical time and energy clearing out wasteful donations to make room for medical supplies, food and other necessary aid.


Which of the following useless donations arrived in Florida after Hurricane Charlie ravaged the coastline in 2004?

Perhaps their hearts were in the right place, but the sex toys indicated their minds were someplace lower.


Following the tragic earthquake and tsunami that punished Japan in 2011, relief workers complained of receiving too many blankets, too much clothing and which of the following odd items?

Maybe the folks who donated the broken bikes thought that fixing a bike would help the tsunami victims take their minds off of the disaster. Or maybe they didn't think at all.


In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, relief workers were flooded with donations of which of the following items from well-meaning animal lovers?

After a news network reported that the feet of some rescue dogs were being burned in the hot rubble, donations of dog shoes came pouring in from pet stores, dog shoe manufacturers and dog lovers.


In the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, philanthropists donated millions to build orphanages for children who had lost their parents in the horrific destruction. What was the unintended result?

The idea of donating to orphaned children was so attractive that many more orphanages were built than were needed, prompting struggling parents to send their kids off to an orphanage rather than raise them at home.


What donated item do all disaster relief agencies agree is the best kind of donation?

When you donate money to a reputable relief agency, the organization can assist disaster victims in the most effective and efficient way possible.


True or false: If you're donating money to a disaster relief agency, it is best to earmark the funds (specify how they should be used) to avoid mismanagement.

Sometimes you earmark funds for something not needed at that time. Four months after the tsunami, one organization had money set aside for rice, which was no longer in short supply; it had to get permission from donors to use the money for something else. If you trust the organization, allow its employees to use the funds as they see best.


Which country refused outside aid in the wake of a natural disaster?

Burma lost an estimated 138,000 people in the monstrous 2008 storm — the deadliest in the region's history — but its government turned back shiploads of aid from Western countries.


Awareness of local conditions and customs is particularly important when donating physical items after a disaster. Which of the following is NOT a real disaster donation reported by relief agencies?

This is why most disaster response specialists recommend giving money, not donations, to organizations. That way you avoid issues like donating pork to Muslims and winter coats to people in South Florida.


True or false: After the deadly 1988 hurricane in Honduras, a plane carrying critical medical supplies couldn't land at the airport because the runway was clogged with unsolicited donations.

The plane and its medical supplies were delayed 48 hours, an eternity in a disaster response situation.


Which of the following commonly donated items is almost never needed after a disaster?

Unless relief organizations specifically request items of clothing, donations of used clothing and shoes are more of a burden than a relief. Better to send them to Goodwill.


One of these donated food items is very useful after a disaster. Which is it?

Jars of baby food with a shelf life of at least six months are one of the few food items that are scarce in post-disaster situations.


Which of the following items would be the best thing to give following a major natural disaster with a lot of casualties and injuries?

Blood banks are often in desperate need of donations after a deadly disaster. Teddy bears, sadly enough, aren't that helpful.


If you want to donate money after a disaster, who should you donate it to?

As much as the church group wants to help, unsolicited volunteers often get in the way of nationally coordinated efforts. And unfortunately, unscrupulous people will take advantage of the public's generosity in the wake of a disaster, so avoid Web sites that aren't affiliated with national or international relief agencies.


True or false: After a major natural disaster, volunteer help is no longer necessary after the first six months.

Recovery from a disaster lasts far beyond the immediate swarm of media attention. In fact, relief organizations are often more in need of volunteers over the long term.


One of the best ways to help out during a disaster is to prepare ahead of time. Which of the following is NOT recommended by disaster relief groups?

Even if your group is well-trained, disaster response specialists say that teams of unsolicited helpers mostly just get in the way. Better for you (or your group) to be linked up with a major disaster relief organization ahead of time.


Disaster preparedness is not only good for you and your family but also for the economy. According to economists, every dollar spent on disaster preparedness saves how many dollars in disaster relief?

Every dollar spent on disaster prep saves $7 in disaster relief, according to the World Bank. Web sites like and have information on how you can be prepared before a disaster strikes.


According to disaster relief agencies, which of the following options would be the most effective way to help in the wake of a natural disaster in another part of the U.S.?

If there's one message you should take from this quiz, it's "cash is best." Money to a reputable relief agency is the best way to help the most people in the most efficient way possible.


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