Why Cash Is Best

Cash is flexible, and provides for culturally, nutritionally and environmentally beneficial support. Most importantly, cash can be used immediately in response to a crisis, and allows disaster relief organizations to purchase exactly what is needed, when it’s needed. Cash gives relief organizations the means to procure supplies near the affected area, which cuts down on transportation time and cost. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

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. With 20 years of experience, USAID CIDI knows that Cash is Best when helping survivors of international disasters.

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

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 and where it is most needed. In addition, the experience of the relief workers enables the 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 evolving 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 locally at the disaster site and provide savings in multiple ways.
  3. Money used to purchase available items local to the disaster offers multiple advantages.

Consider that a cash donation:

  • Stimulates local economies
  • Provides employment and generates cash flow
  • Provides confidence and a sense of normalcy as the area recovers
  • Does not compete with goods from the local market
  • Does not entail transportation/shipping costs

When goods are purchase locally, it decreases the environmental impact of relief efforts, because it requires less energy and generates 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 significantly more beneficial than the donation of commodities.