Where is your donation money going?
Many people may not know that money that goes to the Red Cross does not (by default) go directly to victims of the hurricane. As you may remember, after 9/11 there was a lot of controversy about this. There are also several financial scandals that were (and are still) being uncovered with different fundraisers and board members in the American Red Cross.
With the Red Cross, you must “designate” your donation for it to be applied directly to Katrina victims. The Red Cross will put undesignated money into the general Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. If you go to the Red Cross Webpage to donate, there doesn’t seem to be a way to designate your donation to go directly Katrina victims. The Webpage is very misleading because they make it appear that the money would go to Katrina victims, but there is nothing on the donation page that guarantees this. From what I’ve read, I believe the only way to designate money with the Red Cross is to mail in a donation form, a check, and an attached letter that specifies the designation. I haven’t verified whether you can designate your donation over the phone.
Here is some good advice about donating (it also provides alternatives to the Red Cross).
If you’re in Houston, you may want to contact the Director of Personnel and Volunteer Initiative Program to see if you can volunteer to help evacuees in the Astrodome.
Another charitable organization that I’ve heard (only heard) good things about is Operation Blessing.