Why are cash donations the preferred method of international disaster aid?
Cash is the fastest and best way to provide effective relief to international disaster victims for three reasons:
• Financial contributions are easily convertible to meet specific and immediate needs.
• Cash donations are more efficient, allowing purchases to be made at a bulk discount, at a lower transportation cost and with American dollars which generally go farther overseas.
• Cash donations go directly to the disaster site, allowing for exact purchases of what is needed most urgently and stimulating local economies. Donations, such as used clothing, canned food and bottled water take time and money to transport, rarely meet victims' urgent needs and often interfere with professional relief efforts.
Will my cash donation benefit the victims or the overhead of the relief agency?
There are some relief agencies that operate with very low overhead rates, mainly because their activities focus on the collection of materials and arranging the necessary transportation for these items to disaster sites. These agencies do not require large numbers of employees to provide support on the ground. On the other hand, there are other relief agencies with higher overhead rates that send personnel to the disaster site to administer the transportation, distribution of commodities and manage relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction programs. Clearly these programs require more personnel and resources than others—and will have higher overhead rates.
Can I receive a report on how my cash donation to a relief agency was spent?
You can request this information from the agency to which you make your donation.
Can I receive a tax deduction for my cash donation?
Make sure to check with the agency to which you make your donation. For more information that details tax-exempt, tax-deductible and other related issues related to donations and charitable organizations, please visit the www.give.org
How would I go about donating commodities to disaster victims?
Supplies, particularly food and clothing, can almost always be purchased locally – even in famine situations. Local procurement provides the triple advantage of stimulating local economies (providing employment, generating cash flow), ensuring that supplies arrive as quickly as possible and reducing transport and storage costs.
Do not make assumptions about the needs of disaster victims. Exactly what is needed can be confirmed by checking with an established relief organization that has personnel working on-site. Do not send what is not needed; unneeded commodities compete with priority relief items for transportation and storage. Organizations that receive in-kind relief donations can help this process by clearly communicating what items are required (in what size, type, etc.) as well as clearly stating what items or services are NOT needed.
If I have already collected a commodity donation, what are next steps?
Immediately after a disaster, many local organizations will spontaneously begin collecting miscellaneous items for use in disaster relief. However, at the time that these collections are begun, agency officials will not have thought about to whom, or how, the items will be sent. It is not unusual for community and civic groups to have collected several thousand pounds of relief supplies only to find that they do not know whom to send the supplies to and that they do not have viable transportation options for shipping the goods.
At this juncture, it is often advisable for those collecting the goods to auction them off locally, converting commodities into cash to be applied to the relief effort. If these items cannot be auctioned, we recommend that they be donated to local charities where they might be beneficial to those in need in your own community.