Monday, May 12

Fundraisers encounter challenges in cyclone fundraising

The tragedy of what Cyclone Nargis did to Burma's delta region is almost beyond comprehension.

The International Committee of the Red Cross and Oxfam have estimated that the death toll of 100,000 could be made significantly worse if disease sets in. More than one and a half million people in desperate need of food and water.

So, is it just me or have donors been slow to respond?

Save the Children, Christian Aid, World Vision International and the British Red Cross all began fundraising last Tuesday.

Unfortunately, the military junta in Burma has displayed "sluggishness or suspicion when it comes to taking up offers of overseas and even non-governmental aid." The lack of media access has prevented the worldwide distribution of videos and still images. Are donors getting a free pass as a result?

I mean... after Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami, a lot was written by Convio, NTEN, and others about the lessons learned by nonprofit fundraisers. Rapid response on the internet was supposed to have revolutionized fundraisers ability to raise needed money quickly.

Unfortunately, not only do fundraisers need to react quickly in order to raise the needed funds, but relief organizations have any equally difficult task of trying to figure out how to spend the money that is raised. From last Thursday's Times Online:

A national British appeal was launched today to raise money for the aid effort in Burma. The major overseas aid charities say they will join forces and co-ordinate their fundraising and emergency relief efforts due to the extent of the disaster and the dire need of the Burmese people.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), the umbrella group which represents the 13 biggest aid charities and co-ordinates major disaster appeals, will run the campaign. The DEC took almost two days to make up its mind on whether or not to launch a national appeal, similar to that after the Asian Tsunami.

There have been fears that the charities would struggle to spend a large sum of money effectively due to restrictions placed on their workers by the military dictatorship in the country. The cash raised will go towards not just emergency shelter and food, but reconstruction and rehabilitation afterwards.
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Anonymous said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. We can't see what's happening as a result, so it's less real for donors. I think there's also the very real fear that donations won't get where they need to go given the political situation. Certainly, more donors can donate in even more online places than ever before. Google is even collecting donations on its normal homepage. This isn't a question of online fundraising being effective or not. It's a question of what makes any fundraising appeal effective: a clear story about the issue, a clear call to action, and the trust that the donation will make an impact. Donors really can't get any of the three in this situation.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason is two-fold: mistrust in charities who handled (or mishandled) fundraising for previous catastrophies; and a real crisis at home (economy). When it costs more to eat, drive, clothe, and provide shelter for your family, something has to give. And giving what little we have left to charities who may or may not give 100% of our donation to those who need it (Myanmar, China, etc)would make anyone think twice. And finally, our local nonprofits take a huge hit when we encourage everyone to give overseas. Maybe we can't help everyone? Maybe the red cross and international aid and others should rely on their own efforts to raise money. They shouldn't always rely on the media to help them.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting article from Yahoo News: