I just read an excellent post on Tactical Philanthropy. In it, Sean Stannard-Stockton looks at responses to previous disasters and encourages donors to take those lessons into account when giving to relief efforts in Haiti.
We at GuideStar agree completely. In fact, during the Katrina crisis we began reminding reporters and donors that the problems of New Orleans existed long before the hurricane, and that taking your time with a wise giving decision was better than a rushed donation to an ineffective organization. Since the Haiti crisis broke, we have been telling donors much the same, and to consider long-term as well as short-term giving. As I noted last week, “‘Disaster relief’ is a long-term process, as we’ve seen in the aftermath of the December 26, 2004, tsunamis and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.”
Another issue is restricted versus unrestricted gifts. We recommend that in times of disaster a donor consider giving to a well-experienced organization’s general disaster-relief fund, rather than earmarking the gift for Haiti. Remember that relief organizations can’t wait until donations start coming in to respond to a disaster—they have to get to the scene as quickly as possible. By giving to a general relief fund, you give the organization the ability to use your donation where and when it is most needed. Perhaps that will be in Haiti today. Perhaps it will be at some other location in the future. But your gift to a nonprofit’s general relief fund will make a difference.
The preceding is a guest post Bob Ottenhoff, Chief Executive of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. With an entrepreneurial spirit, strong technology focus, and a quest to make an impact in the world, Bob has the ability to take an organization and lead it into strong performance, sustainability, and industry leadership.