Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti Disaster appeal - what happens when I donate?

The terrible earthquake in Haiti has dominated news and conversations over the past week, and I do hope that you were able to give to help people with their immediate need.

In my last Agitator, in December I talked about what to do post disaster. But when a big disaster or emergency occurs, charities are overwhelmed. It is all hands on deck.

There is still no excuse, disaster and media type charities should be ready - it is a sad fact of life that will be a horrible disaster again, which will need our immediate help.

The American Red Cross was set up ready, with templates and plans in place. They have done brilliantly at using new media - using SMS they had raised $12m by Saturday (compared to $200k after the 2008 Hurricane season).* They had raised $87m in total by that afternoon.

The Australian Red Cross had a different tack - at first the only presence I saw was their home page highlighting the work and response of their colleagues in the USA. Their contacts with journalists came to fruition later on, with their details appearing next to news articles.

Other International Agencies got themselves onto press stories and were using Google Ads and other online devices to drive people to give to help on the ground. Google themselves were first,
with Google Ads asking for help, and trumpeting their brilliant immediate commitment of US$1m and a direct request to give to UNICEF and Concern.

I received plenty of emails from charities I donate to - first was Compassion on Wednesday night, then Christian Aid, hitting my inbox at 230am on Thursday. Plan Australia arrived Thursday evening, as did UNHCR and CBM Australia. WSPA asked me to help them rescue animals in Haiti on Friday and Kiva updated me on projects there on Saturday.

Plan USA got a chaperoned email to me (I am not a donor to them) on Saturday from the Nation Magazine asking me to give to Plan USA.

No one has sent me an SMS or called me yet.

It is hard in the face of tragedy to be hard nosed about these things, but there needs to be a methodical, tested and thorough response by us fundraisers - we need to keep a clear head and work out what people want in this kind of situation.

I have donated to all the Australian charities above, plus Christian Aid in the UK. I am keeping screen grabs of the process and will follow what happens and report back.


*Data from Chronicle of Philanthropy News Update.
You can read last month's pre-Haiti article 'Cashing in on disaster donors' here.

1 comment:

fi paterson said...

UNICEF US was also ready - excellent email appraoch being used with compelling reorts from the field and a clear goal to raise $1 million fm their online community

Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here