Monetary Contributions Work Best/Why Cash Is Best

Monetary Contributions Work Best

Cash can be used immediately. It is flexible, and it provides for culturally, nutritionally and environmentally beneficial support.

Most important, cash allows disaster relief organizations to purchase exactly what is needed, when it is needed and to procure supplies near the affected area, cutting down on transportation time and cost.

Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies decrease.

By focusing on what works best when times are at their worst, USAID’s Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) makes you a force for good.

When Americans want to help those affected by disasters overseas, USAID CIDI encourages them to stop, think and give cash.

Why Cash is Best

USAID CIDI provides information and guidance on the best way to help support international disaster relief efforts. Our goal is to ensure that the public’s generosity results in effective relief.

With 20 years of experience, USAID CIDI knows that Cash is Best to help victims of international disasters. Cash is immediate, it is flexible, it provides for culturally and geographically appropriate support, and most importantly, it allows disaster relief organizations to purchase materials near the affected area, which supports regional economies and speeds the rebuilding process.

Why is Cash Best?

There are three basic reasons why Cash Is Best.

  1. Professional relief agencies use monetary contributions to purchase exactly and specifically what the disaster victims need. Staff for the organizations work directly with the victims at the disaster site and are in the best position to know not only what is immediately needed, but also when it is needed and where it is most needed. In addition the experience of the relief workers enables conversion of cash donations into items that withstand cultural and religious sensitivities, as well as environmental issues. Cash is also flexible, which allows relief workers to meet the changing priority needs of the disaster victims.
  2. Money is easy to transport. Moving a container of donated goods can cost more than the value of the items. Getting a donated commodity into containers and onto a ship, across the sea to the disaster site, through the port costs and the customs’ tariffs, quality checked, quantity checked and sorted, and organized into warehouses, requires payment at each step. Supplies can almost always be purchased local to the disaster site and provide savings in many ways.
  3. Money used to purchase available items local to the disaster offers multiple advantages.
    Consider that a cash donation:

    • Stimulates local economies, providing employment and generating cash flow, providing confidence and a sense of normalcy as the area recovers
    • Does not compete with goods from the local market
    • Ensures that supplies arrive as quickly as possible
    • Does not entail transportation/shipping costs

    Purchasing locally also decreases the environmental impact of relief efforts, because it requires less energy and creates fewer carbon emissions.

A cash donation helps relief organizations respond in a flexible, timely and cost-efficient manner – ultimately providing greater help to those in need. For these reasons, cash contributions to established and legitimate relief agencies are always considerably more beneficial than the donation of commodities.

More resources for informed giving

  • CIDI Toolkit


    Demonstrating Smart Compassion: What You Can Do

    You can help to save lives and reduce human suffering after disasters by providing proven guidance within your community, schools, parishes, sororities and fraternities. Sound good? It is enormously good.

    Visit the toolkit to get started »

  • Donating to Disaster Relief Toolkit

    Help Where It's
    Needed Most Toolkit

    This toolkit was developed by the AdCouncil to help organizations effectively communcate the benefits of monetary doantions in support of disaster relief efforts.

    View the Disaster Relief Toolkit »

  • greatest good donation calculator

    Greatest Good
    Donation Calculator

    How much do you think it costs to send bottled water to Kinshasa? Find out »

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