Hurricane wreckage

June 1 marks the start of Atlantic Hurricane Season – and as we know, it only takes one storm to cause significant damage to communities in the United States and around the world.


When disaster hits, many generous people start looking for ways they can help.

If you are one of them, you should use the start of Hurricane season to pre-plan your generosity too! It can make a big difference for people trying to get back on their feet after disaster.

How can you make the greatest impact in the lives of others this hurricane season? The answer is surprisingly simple: give cash to relief organizations that work directly with people affected by disasters.

Disasters evolve quickly as people move to safety and start receiving emergency services and humanitarian aid. Cash donations allow relief organizations to respond to changing needs quickly, which enables them to deliver essential supplies that are fresh and familiar to the people they are helping. Donating clothes and household items might seem like the right thing to do, but these items rarely reach the people they’re intended to help. In fact, unsolicited donations can hinder relief efforts by diverting relief workers’ attention, clogging up already-limited work space and requiring equipment and time to manage. In stark contrast, even small financial donations can make a huge difference because of charitable organizations’ bulk purchasing power. For example, relief organizations can provide safe drinking water to more than 32,000 people for one day for the same cost of shipping one 6-pack of bottled water to a disaster site.

Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 - Nov. 30
Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 – Nov. 30.


As we mark the start of Atlantic Hurricane Season, keep in mind these three ways you can help people in need:

  1. Decide ahead of time where your money will go. Choose a charity doing work you feel strongly about in hurricane-affected areas. You can make sure your donation is used effectively by consulting charity watchdogs such as Charity Navigator or Give Well.
  2. If you’ve already collected material goods, repurpose them! Your garage may be full, but fret not. Here are 55 ways to repurpose a material donation, or you can donate locally to people in need.
  3. Help spread the word about hurricane season, and cash donations. Many people aren’t aware of the positive impacts associated with giving cash to relief organizations after a disaster – or about the hazards of sending unsolicited material donations. Help us spread the word by directing people to www.cidi.org, following us on – Twitter and liking us on Facebook. You can also share the wonderful “Cash is Best” ads from our 2019 PSAid student contest! Visit psaid.org to see the winning entries.

If you’re still unsure about giving cash, check out our Greatest Good Donation Calculator to determine the cost of material donations like canned food, bottled water and clothes versus the good that the same amount of money can do in the hands of an experienced relief organization.




Save lives, save money – donate cash!

More

CIDI’s Barlin Ali and OFDA Asa Piyaka speak to Ahmed Scego, one of the founders of Global Somali Diaspora

People like to say that this is the Age of Connectedness. Yes, we are more connected. But we’ve always been connected—now it is on a much more intimate and expansive level. Humanity has always sought connectedness. We’ve been exchanging ideas for thousands of years; initially through conquest and trade, now exchange occurs through expedient international travel and the Internet. Diaspora groups are a manifestation of this continued connectedness as community boundaries have reshaped and expanded in our modern era.

At USAID Center for International Disaster Information, we hosted the first organized event in our history. On November 13th, “Diaspora, Disaster, and Donations” welcomed a brilliant set of panelists, each engaging diaspora communities in different ways, with robust discussion about diaspora communities’ roles following disaster events. Each panelist touched upon the importance of the connectedness of our world and how diaspora groups are an active expression of this.

USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance’s Asa Piyaka expounded upon the shifting role diaspora communities are playing in disaster relief. Diasporas play such a crucial role during disaster, he explained, because these communities already have ties to the affected region and are typically more tuned-in to what is needed than international relief organizations may be. USAID CIDI’s own Barlin Ali conveyed that diasporas and charities wish to send remittances and donated cash to disaster-affected areas. However, in addition to the power of cash during emergencies, it is crucial to provide education about responsible giving in order to maximize its efficacy and impact.

During a disaster, remittances sent to countries of origin by diaspora communities are often the only stable source of income, stated Safiya Khalid of the Institute of Immigration Research at George Mason. For example, in the 2004 tsunami, Sri Lanka received government and NGO money to provide fishermen with boats; nonetheless, it was remittances that provided the nets with which to fish. Remittances aren’t without associated challenges, including misdirected money. Katherine Gupta of the US Treasury Department outlined avenues in which remittances can be given safely and transparently.

Diaspora groups send remittances and concerned citizens donate to communities stricken by crises because each are affected by the global reverberations during their aftermaths. Professor Terrence Lyons of George Mason University mentioned that “communities are not bounded by territory, they are transnational.” That to be a part of a diaspora community is to be both “simultaneously a Virginian and a Liberian. Those links of affinity, that you have an obligation to this community . . . that is what drives so much of the politics and the donations, and the remittances.”

Our global community is transformed by the immediate communicative and physical connection we all now have. When disaster strikes, it is no longer an isolated incidence as it may have been a hundred years ago; rather, it now impacts the world on a global and a regional level. Diaspora groups are a realization of the expansion of distinctive regional communities. These communities, especially diaspora, are poised better than ever to respond to disaster and reshape our global recovery efforts.

USAID CIDI Staff at "Diaspora, Disaster, and Donations"

USAID CIDI Staff at “Diaspora, Disaster, and Donations”

event invite

Join us as we host a panel discussion on:

Diaspora: who are they, why do they matter, and how are they impacting the economics of disaster relief in an increasingly globalized world? We want to take the mystery out of this very diverse, dynamic topic and engage with those who are active diaspora working in development.

RSVP here, from now until seats are gone, so hurry!

Donations can be misused and ill-spent despite the best intentions of donors
Deciding whether or not to donate and which agency or project to donate to can be a daunting and frustrating task. Although donors choose aid agencies that they think will have the greatest impact, aid donations often are misused and ill-spent. This occurs both despite of and because of the best intentions of donors.

How does this happen?
Concerned about aid reaching those who need it the most, many donors give to aid agencies that work quickly and cheaply. Dependent upon donors for funding and survival, aid agencies feel pressured to develop programs that are fast and cheap. Unfortunately, projects with low administration costs and fast implementation rates often have unintended consequences.

More
I Was Here

Image credit to the UN.

 

As we approach World Humanitarian day, one thing comes to mind. Every year on August 19, we honor people who work in humanitarian projects around the world. These true humanitarians make many personal sacrifices in order to provide assistance to others. And  their work is often risky – even life threatening.  August 19 is World Humanitarian Day, established in honor of Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 20 members of his staff who died tragically in a car bombing on August 19, 2003.

Humanitarian professionals work in a variety of sectors. Some focus on water and sanitation initiatives. Others are trained for search and rescue, shelter, livelihood restoration, nutrition and rapid response following natural disasters. They work across multiple sectors around the globe, but one doesn’t need a plane ticket to be a humanitarian.

To be a humanitarian requires two basic things. First is a concern for the welfare of all people. The second is a classic humanitarian concept dating back to the Hippocratic Oath – do no harm. A way to insure against doing harm is to ensure your help is wanted and required, to avoid the possibility of causing harm despite your best intentions.  You may know from the experience of giving or receiving a gift that bombed- good intentions do not always guarantee good outcomes.

There are so many ways to connect with and help others! Want to give to a worthy cause? Donate cash to a responsible organization working in a sector you believe in. If you have only have material goods to give, that’s okay. You can donate them locally, or sell them and donate the proceeds. Take an idea from our “55 Ways to Repurpose a Material Donation”. Once you’ve decided to help others without causing harm, you’re bound to be a humanitarian in your hood.

For more ideas on how to be humanitarian in your hood, stay tuned for tips in future blogs.