Smaller Charities Chip In, Too

Along with major groups such as the American Red Cross, some grassroots groups are aiding victims of Hurricane Katrina in unusual ways

By Bremen Leak

Relief groups large and small have come to life since the winds of Hurricane Katrina died down last week. Organizations like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army have a strong reputation for efficiently putting charitable dollars to use. For those trying to identify large relief agencies that will make efficient use of a gift, check out nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator's list of agencies that demonstrate transparency and put your money to work fast.

Smaller grassroots organizations are also finding unique ways to contribute to hurricane relief efforts. For those who prefer the latter, here are five recommended Web sites:

Noah's Wish, a nonprofit for displaced pets in times of flood or other disasters, has set up an animal shelter in conjunction with Slidell (La.) Animal Control. It's soliciting supplies and volunteers to help care for hundreds of cats, dogs, reptiles, birds, rabbits, and squirrels waiting to be reunited with their owners. More than three-quarters of its funds are spent in pursuit of the mission.

First Book is working with (AMZN ) to fund books for rescued children. While hundreds of displaced families wait in shelters, First Book wants to help would-be students and others who have little to read. A $5 donation will ensure that a book reaches a child, and because of the charity's innovative online distribution approach, more than 98 cents of every donated dollar goes toward the cause.

The My Stuff Bags Foundation provides items of comfort such as blankets and toys as well as basic toiletries to children in distress. Founded by talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the organization is sending hundreds of bags to children affected by the hurricane. It makes efficient use of your funds, with 90 cents of every dollar going directly to the bags.

The Greater Houston Community Foundation has set up several funds to help disaster victims. One is the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Disaster Relief Fund, which helps to compensate hotel and restaurant employees affected in the tourism-heavy city. Out of every dollar contributed, 97 cents will land in workers' pockets. Directors say they won't stop until every worker is back on his or her feet.

The Orthodox Union, in conjunction with the Rabbinical Council of America and Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future, has established the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund to aid communities in need. Every penny of cash and check donations goes to assist victims. A 2% to 3% transaction fee applies to online donations.


Leak is an intern for BusinessWeek in New York

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