Every disaster response is unique, carefully tailored to meet ever-changing humanitarian needs. Immediately after a disaster strikes, relief organizations coordinate with the host government, affected communities, and other aid groups to conduct needs assessments in order to save as many lives as possible. During this stage, unsolicited material goods are seldom required as they compete with priority relief items identified by the disaster experts.

The best way to help survivors and support disaster relief efforts is also the most economical, efficient, and effective: Provide monetary donations to aid groups working on the ground.

Benefits of Cash Donations

Cash is fast and flexible, allowing professional aid groups to purchase exactly what is needed, when it is needed. Monetary donations:

  • Save money by helping aid groups avoid delays and steep transportation and administrative costs associated with material donations.
  • Enable aid groups to quickly purchase culturally and nutritionally appropriate provisions close to the disaster site. Food and safe drinking water can almost always be purchased locally, even following a disaster. These goods arrive quickly and are fresh and familiar to survivors.
  • Boost local economies by supporting local markets and merchants, providing jobs, and generating cash flow. Unsolicited material goods often compete with goods from local markets, negatively impacting people’s livelihoods.
  • Allow for maximum flexibility when needs are constantly changing. Cash can be used to provide lifesaving healthcare, shelter, family reunification, counseling, and other services that are vital to survivors of disasters.
  • Promote efficiency because relief items purchased locally require less energy and generate fewer carbon emissions to transport to areas of need.

Even small monetary contributions can do a great deal of good, helping more people than unsolicited material donations. By focusing on what works best when times are at their worst, CIDI makes you a force for good!


“Cash is Best”

CIDI coined the phrase “Cash is Best” in 1988. Since then, this tagline has been used by domestic and international relief agencies, U.N. organizations, the White House, and federal agencies to promote effective public support of disaster relief.