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Typhoon Ulysses, known internationally as Vamco, has caused massive flooding in Metro Manila, Rizal, Bicol, Cagayan, and other parts of the country, leaving thousands of Filipinos displaced from their homes, trapped on rooftops waiting for rescue, and with damaged properties.

To help, numerous civilians, groups, and even business establishments have initiated donation drives for relief efforts, which may understandably be overwhelming for interested donors.

This confusion is what a Facebook user by the name Janna Gumalo is hoping to help with—by collating donation channels and options all in one spreadsheet.

In her Facebook post, Gumalo has shared the link to the directory of donations drives, which she describes as a “cheat sheet” for donors, as well as screenshots of the list for easier access.

“I tried collating the different donation drives I saw online for the victims of #UlyssesPH, some of them also include relief operations for typhoons Quinta, Rolly & Siony,” Gumalo writes. “They’re sorted by fin channels so you can easily check the drives based on the bank accounts you have. It also has cutoff dates.”

The spreadsheet includes links to social media pages of organizers, as well as bank transfer details. For monetary donations. Gumalo has organized it by digital payment channels or bank names, so donors can easily identify where they could donate using their existing personal accounts.

Gumalo says the idea started when a high school friend asked her if she knows any donation drives for the victims of recent typhoons. “I realized I should organize them in one sheet so my other friends can also check them out,” she tells MB Life.

The spreadsheet later turned out to be handy, not just as a reference, but also as a protection against scammers who are posing as either victims of the typhoon or organizers of donation drives.

To ensure that the list only contains legitimate donation drives, Gumalo says she started including those featured in reliable news articles.

“[I] then added those coming from my school’s orgs and the ones handled by people I personally know,” she explains. “[I continued] including donation drives handled by orgs, student councils, or foundations that were already formed way before these typhoons happened. I just check if the details privately sent to me match with the ones posted on the org’s official pages.”

For individuals or groups of friends initiating their own call for donations, Gumalo checks their public posts for financial transparency and/or distribution updates.

Despite the double checking, Gumalo says its still best for the donors to still visit the pages and check the legitimacy for themselves before making any sort of donation. “There are way too many people in dire need of help and we can’t afford to lose our limited donation funds to scammers,” she adds.

As of writing, the post has been shared at least 27,000 times.

Gumalo recognizes, too, that the list “doesn’t capture everything,” that’s why she’s working on constantly updating the list. She hopes the list can help extend help to more victims across all affected areas.

“There are a lot of initiatives out there catering to different sectors and offering different types of help but they need more support,” she explains. “Some people may only see on their feed projects organized by their friends catering to similar areas. If they see more donation drives beyond their current circle, they’d be encouraged to stretch their donations a bit more—- perhaps to farmers whose crops were destroyed, to groups providing housing materials for rebuilding destroyed homes, or to volunteers bringing hygiene kits to typhoon victims.”

Seeing more donation options, Gumalo says, ensures that no one is left behind.

The list creates a system and an avenue to learn each group’s best practices in organizing calls for donations and making relief efforts more efficient.

“It sounds cliche but it’s true how far-reaching small efforts combined can be. I hope this simple sheet would connect us to a wider network where we get to broaden our awareness of the struggles of our fellows, and where we donors and on-ground volunteers could augment the extent of help we can send to them,” Gumalo says. “I hope this pushes us to sacrifice a bigger chunk of our privilege for those who could only wish they’d also feel even just half the comfort we have now.”

Featured image from Manila Bulletin


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