Right now there is something happening that we call “The CNN Effect.” This refers to the impact that media has over public donations to disasters or other crises. Essentially this is how it works, people are far more likey to donate to events that are:
- Rapid onset – A landslide, earthquake, tsunami – rather than disasters that are much slower such as prolonged draught, desertification, or rising sea levels.
- Vivid images – Scenes that the media can play over and over again that pull at donors heart strings – disasters that are far from the public eye or in areas with very limited coverage may not get as many donations. Think of the flooding in Pakistan last year as an example.
- Perceived “innocence” – Part of how much we give appears to be related to whether or not we think that people are somehow responsible
Posted on March 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm
It’s natural to want to immediately give to Japan’s recovery efforts. With all the destruction wrought by a major earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant failing it would seem they could use all the help they can get. So my suggestion is going to seem counter-intuitive, but I agree with GiveWell’s recommendation
“At this point we strongly recommend holding off on giving to this relief/recovery effort.”
And Brigid Slipka’s decision
“So here’s what I’m doing: I’m taking that impetus to give and pulling out $100. Then I’m putting it aside for a month or so. After a bit more information is out there, I’ll figure out where and how to give.”
The reason I suggest you wait is because Japan has thus far only allowed/requested very limited international assistance.
Posted on March 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm
The following are articles and posts on the relief efforts that I think my readers will find interesting. I’ll regularly update this page with the most recent articles at the top.
Japan update 4/13/11 – GiveWell
After the quake – The Economist
Volunteers in earthquake-hit areas exceed 130,000 - Daily Yomiuri
Many Japanese Factories Recover After Quake - New York Times
Two views on disaster relief in Japan – Humanosphere - Provides two contrasting views on whether or not international organizations should have fund raised and offered assistance to Japan.
Japan’s crisis: one month later - Boston Globe – A series of photos
SEEDS Asia - Situation Report #12 – An update of the recovery efforts and of the work of local…
Posted on March 14, 2011 at 9:10 am
Reposting this given the recent earthquakes and tsunami.
The following is a series of dos and don’ts to help you make the best donation decisions after a disaster.
Do determine if the country is accepting international assistance
With all the photos and videos of destruction on the evening news, it may seem impossible that governments would not want outside assistance. However, just because there has been a disaster does not mean that the local government and local aid organizations are not capable of reaching and helping those in need. Before sending your donation find out what, if any, assistance the government is allowing. Check to see if the aid organization you’re considering donating to is offering that same type of assistance.
Do look at a variety of nonprofits before giving
There are hundreds of organizations that respond to most disasters, take the time
Posted on March 11, 2011 at 11:22 am
Two things came up today that brought home the question of our motivations. Do we do things because it’s what’s best for “them” or for “us”?
Here’s a comic strip from today’s paper.
And Katherine over at Solar Sisters sent this website my direction. It appears that DFID is following up on Kristof’s recommendation to send 18 – 22 year olds overseas for three month projects. If you watch the video, you’ll see the entire focus is about what the participants get out of the experience, not the actual needs of the people they’re supposed to help.
(click on the post title if you don’t see the video)
Both the comic strip and the DFID program beg the question Whose volunteer experience is this anyway? Are we doing this because it is what “they” need and want, or are…
Posted on March 10, 2011 at 6:52 am
Besides this blog, I am also active on several other social media sites. You can find me:
- On twitter at @good_intents
- On facebook at Good Intentions are Not Enough – where I share links to this blog, my other blogs, and articles I think readers will find interesting.
- In the Chronicle of Philanthropy blogging at World View – and no, I don’t cross-post very much between the two blogs, so it’s worth checking both. To see links to the latest posts check the right hand sidebar on the homepage of this website.
- In the Huffington Post – again you can check the latest post on the sidebar of the homepage of this website.
- On Quora – where you can ask myself and other aid bloggers questions
- And in the Smart Aid Initiative’s twitter feed – where I
Posted on March 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm
This video was produced by DEC (the Disaster Emergency Committee) and is based on the findings from their recent study Urban Disasters – Lessons from Haiti.
(if the video does not appear, click on the title of the blog post)
From their blog post, Urban Disasters – Lessons From Haiti, the ten lessons on responding to urban disasters identified by the report are:
- Work with and through municipalities wherever possible.
- Find and use neighbourhood networks and capacities.
- Work with the local private sector and don’t compete unfairly.
- Focus on long term homes, not short term shelter.
- Keep people in or close to their neighbourhoods, if safe.
- Assume skills and resources can be found locally.
- Assume fast changing environments and have an exit strategy.
- Use cash to stimulate markets.
- Use the right tools for working with complex sets of stakeholders.
- Prepare now for the next big urban disaster
Posted on March 7, 2011 at 8:52 am
“A more useful way to consider human progress is to consider a ‘developed society’ as one with a defined set of characteristics, and to create from these a vision for change. Building on work by others, we propose a generic vision comprising six key characteristics:
- Equal access to political voice, and the legitimate and accountable use of power.
- Equal participation in a vibrant and sustainable economy.
- Equal access to justice, and equality before the law.
- Freedom from insecurity.
- The ability of people to maintain their mental and physical well-being, to have aspirations and make progress towards them.
- The self-reinforcing presence of institutions and values that support and enable equitable progress and peace.”
I find it an…
Posted on March 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm
I was very happy to see this blog post from charity: water talking about the need for maintenance.
“Four years ago, the accepted average lifespan of many of our water technologies was 20 years. Since then, charity: water — and the water sector as a whole — has been reevaluating what “sustainability” really means. We’ve always known that $20 per person covers the implementation of the water project on the ground. But we’re now unclear about how much it will cost to maintain our water projects over time; so we don’t want to continue to tell you (and ask you to tell your friends and supporters) that $20 can cover the cost of water for one person for 20 years.”
All too often projects are only funded for the actual building phase, and the maintenance needs are either disregarded or brushed under the carpet. Yet anyone that’s…
Posted on March 3, 2011 at 11:04 am
So it’s been almost a month since my original post discussing the financial incentive for World Vision to distribute donated goods. And World Vision has yet to clearly state how much the 100,000 NFL shirts are worth. In their original blog post announcing the partnership, World Vision claimed the value of the donation as:
“On average, this equates to about 100 pallets annually — $2 million worth of product — or about 100,000 articles of clothing that, instead of being destroyed, will help children and adults in need.”
So $2 million divided by 100,000 articles of clothing comes out to around $20 per item. When called out on this, World Vision did not to stand behind either their press release or their blog post. Instead, they said this:
“World Vision hasn’t valued this year’s donation of NFL-related clothing because we have not received…
Posted on March 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm