Donor tips

Thank you to all of you who gave during the emergency period !!!

As we move into the long recovery period – you help will also be needed again the fall and in next year.

There are many different ways to donate. All of these are valid and necessary type of fundraising – some people are happier to give to general funds and some people want to give to very specific causes. NGOs need general funds as well as targeted funding. Getting money to groups working in the field is very important.

I would like to encourage you all to be educated donors. Some ideas about needs and giving: interview part 2 of an interview I did addresses many of the donation issues below

Some note on making donations:

1. Giving directly to the groups doing work on the ground
* This is based on the idea that the groups doing the actual work need money NOW in emergency situations and that they do not have a lot of extra money to play with.
* When we give directly to a specific funding campaign, the org is also expected to use the funds for that purpose and that purpose only. They should not be shifting money to other accounts or needs.
* As we move into recovery — it is important to find out who is doing what and support what you believe in!

2. Giving to affiliates overseas:
* In this case the org getting the money may or may not be active in the country where the disaster has happened.
* Mercy Corps has stated clearly that funds are being collected in the US for Peace Winds. Some other organizations are collecting money but it is not clear how they will use the money – now or later, by themselves or to be sent to their affiliate overseas.

3. Giving to general issue based funding campaigns
* For example when you see your local supermarket is collecting money for the Earthquake, where is it actually going? If “ABC NGO” or “Earthquake in Mexico” is the only thing written on the donation box, ask someone. If they laugh when you ask, give somewhere else.
* lf the donation box only lists the name of an org then the monies may be used for various causes.
* When you give to a general fund you have no control over where it goes or how the funds will be used.
* It can take weeks or months for orgs on the ground to get the funds – but it might not go to groups working on the ground.

4. Giving to funding hub that take the money and then distribute it
* The money may go to 1 org or a number of orgs depending on the hub.
* Often you can earmark the donation for a specific org or cause
* It can take weeks or months for the org on the ground to get the funds – not a problem for large orgs but for small groups this can be an issue.
* We often see this like through a cell phone carrier, online fundraising site.

interview part 3

Some hints:

1. Be an educated donor. Know what is being asked and what the needs are.

2. Do not make assumptions that your money is going to field work unless you give to an organization in the field and to that specific funding campaign.

3. Don’t feel bad about asking where money is going – this is not being suspicious. This is being responsible and part of making an educated choice.

4. Look out for phrases like the one below which tell you that your donation may or may not be used for the disaster you think it will be used for:

* “Your gift to the ABC org will support our disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Chile and throughout Latin America. On those rare occasions when donations exceed ABC’s expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters.”

5. Be aware that when a disaster happens some groups are happy to take advantage of the “giving feeling” and may not be doing any relief work but they are happy to make money for other projects while people are in the “giving mood”.

In emergency situations, I advocate for giving directly to local groups that are active in that specific field already so that you can be clear your money is going where you expect. I selected the groups in Japan for overseas funding also to make sure local groups and not just overseas groups get support for rebuilding in their own country.

It is your responsibility to know to what and where you are giving money.


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