FAQ About ShelterBox

What is ShelterBox?

ShelterBox is a cutting-edge charity that hand-delivers emergency shelter for families devastated by disaster and conflict.

Our signature ShelterBoxes and ShelterKits contain the tools to transform lives and rebuild communities.

The work we do starts with an engaged Board of Directors and a dedicated staff. Meet the team.

What aid does ShelterBox provide?

We provide aid that is tailored to meets the needs of a community after a specific disaster. The aid we supply comes in the form of ShelterBoxes and ShelterKits.

Our sturdy green ShelterBoxes contain family-sized tents specially designed to withstand the elements and provide people with temporary shelter until they are able to start the process of rebuilding a home.

Our ShelterKits contain all of the essential tools people need to start repairing and rebuilding homes straight away. Our kits and boxes also contain the items that help transform shelter into a home – like cooking sets, solar lights and activity sets for children.

We also provide extra aid items, such as SchoolBoxes that contain everything needed to get lessons up and running after a disaster, depending on the situation. Explore our ShelterBox aid in depth.

Who funds ShelterBox?

ShelterBox relies on the support from individuals, companies, foundations, civic groups and schools. ShelterBox receives no funding from any government entity.

We rely on your support to ensure no family goes without shelter when disaster strikes.

Who supports ShelterBox?

ShelterBox is supported by our global network of ShelterBox affiliates and a range of partners, including Rotary International.

Find out more about our partnerships.

How do you decide where to send aid?

When disasters and conflicts occur, our ShelterBox operations team make careful assessments to ensure that ShelterBox aid is right for the situation.

We will consider the type of disaster and the level of damage, as well as the needs of the community and their ability to recover, before selecting the right type of support. We are then able to quickly transport items from our positioned hubs around the world to exactly where it is needed.

How do you deliver aid?

We deliver aid to wherever it is needed, by any means possible. Our teams travel by foot, boat, helicopter or even tuk-tuk to get there. Whatever it takes.

Find out more about how our aid is delivered.

How do you source your aid items?

Our items are specially sourced and designed to ensure that the families we support have exactly the aid they need. The aid is designed to withstand extreme conditions, from torrential rain to hurricane winds, and to last for a long time – until families are able to rebuild their homes. For this reason, we are unable to accept donations of items.

Do you work with other aid organizations?

We often collaborate with other aid organizations, as well as with organizations within communities, to make sure that we are reaching all of the families in need of shelter.


Deployment Questions

How quickly can you respond?

ShelterBox aims to get its boxes and a response team to the scene of a disaster as quickly as possible. We often begin planning the response within hours of a major disaster.

The exact time of delivery will depend on the circumstances and we can only distribute aid within safe and achievable, operational parameters. Chronic disasters such as conflict or famine may have a slower response time as the crisis or disaster may evolve over a period before it reaches a stage when humanitarian intervention is required or possible.

Where need is less clear, we may send a reconnaissance team in before any aid to see how much need there is and whether our equipment is suitable. On each occasion, we will take advice from relevant bodies. However, our aim is always to provide immediate aid wherever possible.

ShelterBox has aid in strategic locations around the world, either key transportation hubs or locations that are close to areas where we regularly deploy. Having pre-positioned aid significantly reduces our response time.

What happens with used ShelterBox aid?

ShelterBox aid is given as a gift from the donor to the recipient, it is theirs to keep. Many recipients find other uses for their aid when they are able to rebuild. An empty ShelterBox can be used for water storage or to keep their belongings dry. ShelterBoxes have even been used as a cradle or a mobile library. In some cases recipients use the tent and boxes to set up local businesses! After some disasters, if the contents are still in good condition, the recipients pack them back into the boxes and store them for future use by the community.

Why is there no First Aid kit in the ShelterBox?

ShelterBox provides a shelter-based kit. There are other organizations that specialize in providing medical aid, so we leave medical support and provisions to them.

In addition, we cannot send perishable items and First Aid kits tend to include items that have an expiry date. We do however support medical needs in the immediate aftermath of a major disaster and often our tents will be used as temporary hospitals and recovery units when medical facilities have been destroyed.

Is it possible to purchase a ShelterBox, ShelterKit or ShelterBox Tent for personal use?

ShelterBox currently does not produce tents or other equipment for commercial sale. We only produce ShelterBoxes, ShelterKits and other aid items to be delivered as part of a deployment following a disaster or conflict.

If another organization or government body asks for assistance, do these organizations pay for ShelterBoxes or are they given to them at no charge?

ShelterBox equipment is always a gift from the donor to the recipient. ShelterBox works in partnership with many other agencies that help us to distribute the aid where it is needed most but the aid remains the responsibility of ShelterBox and we have a duty of care to ensure that they are delivered to recipients. ShelterBox aid cannot be purchased by another organization.

What is the correct term for a volunteer who delivers aid for ShelterBox?

ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member.

Do SRT members sleep in tents on deployment?

They can and do if required. Response Team members are trained to be totally self-sufficient to ensure they are alleviating the problems being faced by a community and not adding to them. They might also stay in hotels or at a Rotarian’s home, depending on the nature of the disaster.

Why doesn’t ShelterBox assist with the homeless situation in the U.S.?

The mission of ShelterBox is to provide emergency shelter to families made vulnerable by disaster or conflict. In the U.S., there are numerous charities and government resources designed to deal with the specific needs of the homeless community. Aside from falling outside of mission parameters, the logistical operations of setting up a tent camp in U.S. municipalities would absorb ShelterBox resources otherwise dedicated to worldwide disaster response.

Additionally, tent camps would require enormous and continued support from the local municipality. Considerations such as land designation, sanitation, water access and security are factors that often deter tent camps from being a viable option outside of disaster responses.


FAQ About your donation

How can I donate to ShelterBox?

You can donate to ShelterBox right now via our secure online donation page. Alternatively, checks may be made payable to ShelterBox USA and sent to PO Box 5055, Santa Barbara, CA 93150.

Please review our website Privacy Policy.

Can I give donations for a specific location or disaster?

Except for the Syria crisis, ShelterBox is unable to accept location-specific donations. The way we work means we have to be prepared for immediate response. Donations received before a disaster will often be those that are used to respond to it. Donations stimulated because of a disaster may be used to prepare for the next one.

How much of my donation will directly help to provide shelter?

On average, 85% of every donation will go directly to providing shelter for families left without shelter in the aftermath of disaster. 15% is spent on administration costs and creating awareness of ShelterBox.

How do I know how my donation is being used?

We will always use your donation however the need is greatest, ensuring we can mobilize and respond instantly while giving families aid that is 100% correct and what is needed to begin rebuilding lives.

– Every donation means we can reach families with the aid they desperately need. At this time this could be a ShelterBox, in other situations this may be specific items such as water purification units and mosquito nets or a ShelterKit.
– Our Operations Team works around the clock monitoring each deployment.
– Our Response Teams closely monitor every single item of aid to ensure it reaches the most vulnerable families without shelter.
– We have stringent assessment, distribution and reporting processes which our volunteers, staff and partners all adhere to, ensuring the aid gets directly into the hands of the families that need it most.
– We are fully audited every year by external auditors and our accounts are submitted annually to Charity Navigator and GuideStar.

Learn more about our Board, Staff and governance.

FAQ General questions

How can I contact ShelterBox?

Visit our Contact page for more information.

How can I raise money for ShelterBox?

There are lots of ways in which you can raise money for ShelterBox, like creating your own event, creating your own fundraising webpage or advocating our mission on social media.

How can I get involved with ShelterBox?

Volunteers are an integral part of the ShelterBox Team.

They not only help to pack and hand-deliver our aid to communities, but also help to raise awareness and funds for ShelterBox too.

Join the ShelterBox Team by becoming a volunteer or check out our Career Opportunities page.


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The Aid We Send

See the tailored aid we deliver to devastated communities

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