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Disaster and Holiday Fundraising Can Mix: Here’s How

Charities that raise money after a disaster are often confronted by donors who are skeptical about how their donations will be spent.

As a result, groups that provide disaster relief need to take extra steps to be “transparent and accountable” during a crisis, says Bob Ottenhoff, chief executive of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

“Donors want to know why you’re raising money and what you’re going to do with it,” Mr. Ottenhoff said during a conference call Monday with Chronicle readers about disaster fundraising in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

To assuage those concerns, Terry Axelrod, founder of the fundraising consulting company Benevon, advised nonprofits to be clear about where their work fits in with larger relief efforts. For groups that provide direct relief, Ms. Axelrod recommends sharing personal stories, providing nightly e-mail updates, and asking frequently for the help that is most needed.

For those with missions unrelated to disaster relief, the experts advise groups to avoid sending appeals to donors in the hardest-hit areas immediately after a disaster and to adjust language in holiday fundraising messages to acknowledge the disaster and its aftermath.

To hear more tips for handling your holiday fundraising after the disaster, listen to the entire discussion below.

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