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How Donating to Disaster Relief Can Do More Harm Than Good | Juanita Rilling

How Donating to Disaster Relief Can Do More Harm Than Good | Juanita Rilling


There are two aspects to every donation. There is the emotional/spiritual side which
is all good and there’s the practical/material side which is very tricky. The emotional/spiritual side is people giving
to people who are hurting which has spiritually evolved in civilization saving that is all
really good. But a donation is a material thing in a situation
where material things have to be prioritized. There’s no emotion in humanitarian logistics. Anything that is not needed gets in the way
and so people’s donations can actually prevent people on the ground from getting the help
that they need. After a major disaster there really are no
flat, dry spaces to put things. And so if there are flat, dry spaces the relief
organizations need them to stage and manage and deliver emergency supplies. So if it’s raining used clothing and canned
food and bottled water all of that has to be moved aside and it’s in the elements
because there really is no climate controlled storage after a disaster, not for a long time. If there is it’s used for medicines. So all of this donated goods, these donated
goods sit in the elements and they degrade. The clothing gets moldy, the cans open up,
these big piles become a haven for rats and snakes and therefore a health hazard for anyone
who has to deal with them. And moving all of the stuff out of the way
and managing it is relief workers taking relief workers time and heavy equipment and money
away from the response. So all of these resources that are used to
manage unneeded donations are being taken basically from survivors. Like Give Well, Guidestar, Charity Watch and
Charity navigator where people who are open to donating money can look in the websites
and find out what the organizations are doing, what they specialize in and the donor can
decide whether they want to support the organization. That’s really the best way to do it. After the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, a very
generous donor offered 28 truckloads of new furniture to the people of Moore, Oklahoma. And the relief workers were like dude, that
is so wonderful of you but can you wait because right now there are no houses, no houses. But he was excited about his gift. People get very excited when they want to
give something they know is special. So up to Moore came 28 truckloads and all
of that furniture needed to be warehoused and warehousing costs money. And so that’s money that comes away from
building people’s houses. So timing is important in giving as well. And it’s not good to give household goods
when there are no households. The best way to help survivors of any disaster
event is through cash donations to the relief and charitable organizations who are working
directly in disaster affected communities. That is because cash donations enable relief
organizations to meet needs as they change which happens frequently, especially in the
early days right after a disaster which are very dynamic. Cash donations also enable relief organizations
to purchase supplies close to the disaster affected area because even in the worst disaster
a protracted famine there’s always a perimeter of healthy markets from which to buy supplies. And when supplies are purchased locally they
are fresh and familiar to survivors. They’re purchased in just the right quantities
and they don’t require the heavy transportation costs and fees. They’re delivered quickly and there’s
enough for everyone. They really – cash donations really are
the best donation to give. And I understand that people are sometimes
suspicious of relief organizations. And justifiably so because in that tricky
intersection of money and human nature there will be pop up non-governmental organizations
after a disaster. All of a sudden you’ll see this compelling
website with a name you’ve never heard of and a big red donate now button. And people are smart to be cautious. But that’s why the charity watchdogs are
so helpful.

  • This is pretty obvious too: Donate money, instead of goods. Management and transmission of goods is a logistical issue and requires on-the-ground specialists. Donating money to an organization that is already skilled at logistics gives them the resources to buy, manage, and move the goods they actually need, instead of burdening them with too much canned food or something already in surplus.

  • A non-politically -biased video that is actually about something not immediately obvious and also not just pushing some book? What do you think this is, "Big Think" or something?

  • Unfortunately most charities are even corrupt. For ecample, a lot of cancer societies do take a lot of the money and put it towards the events and on occasion CEOs and employees. You need to be very cautious of where you donate to in order to make sure your money goes where you need it to go. I was unaware of charity watchdogs but I am now and will make sure to check it out. Also research showd that lower class people donate far more then wealthy people do because they understand hardship. Unfortunately they also tend to be less educated so are less likely to make sure their donations go where they need to go

  • it's a shame. there's a surplus here, a need there. but as she said, timing is crucial. what need does one have of furniture without a house? and cash is so often misappropriated. I remember people rushing to donate blood after the Sept.11 attacks, much of which was diverted to other needs so it wouldn't spoil and be wasted. we should think before and as we give.

  • Here's a solution for the dropped goods that get infested: put it in a thick, plastic safe with a keypad to unlock it with the security code written just above keypad.

    Yeah, I know, it's too expensive.

  • Some charities can be as much as 100+ times more effective than others. Meaning you can do much more good per dollar, if you just spend a few minutes doing some research. Consider looking up "effective altruism" and the charity evaluators they recommend. Also, disaster relief already receives a lot of attention, so consider the diminishing returns factor. Ongoing disasters (severe poverty, malaria, deworming, factory farming) are more neglected areas.

  • I once volunteered for an HIV charity. I was shocked at their use of people and fame whoring. The amount of money spent was horribly excessive. The CEO was even a heartless rich woman.
    I only volunteer or give where I am involved or want to be. Most organizations are just going to pick and choose what they want to do or with whom. I have found it best to give to people off the street or on my path that made an impression on me. Either give or help them get the proper help.

  • Also, people donate too much blood right after a disaster. They're doing a good deed but the thing is blood only lasts 42 days. So its better to donate randomly throughout the year, keeping supplies up just in case. Or wait awhile after the disaster to donate.

  • er-mm.. Clinton foundation for Haiti anyone ?

    maybe address the issue of companies sending their unwanted rubbish to charity and aid relief as part of a tax incentive/relief( eg out of date medicine), leaving the recipient with the cost of disposing of it safely and legally.

    also how about the issue of those who pledge( govts) but don't actually follow through or even keep up. once the disaster requiring aid relief is no longer news worthy ( or even fundraising worthy) the donations stop or trickle to nothing.

  • Makes good sense. One would have to wonder why we don't employ this method of helping others in every day life, and not just when a major disaster occurs?

  • Sure, but cash donations are also EASIER TO STEAL! 10 bucks here, 20 bucks there, a ball donation, a party donation… If even banks (who already have money btw) do it, I can only imagine other organisations. One can always count on human greed to F* everything up. Don't want blankets, food, or other itens? Fine, stop asking for them and get the goverment to fund you… we pay taxes for something.

  • The donations aren't the issue – it's management. Why do the donated goods need to be stored at the disaster site? Put them in storage some distance away, hauling in what you need when you are ready for it.

  • You don't want to donate because people won't go out and get a job. They will just survive off of all your donations. Donations promote laziness. After a natural disaster, the last thing we need is laziness.

  • Economics on a life boat is triage. Economics during peace is the quotidian flex of supply chains. This video is about the difference and why so many food drives oversupply canned foods and undersupply the normal greens that we can enjoy through summer and winter.

  • I am a disaster volunteer that's been to the earthquakes in Turkey in 99, and Haiti in 10 as well as hurricanes Sandy in 12 and Patricia in 15. I'm now working to launch C'8 – Coordinate, a disaster aid coordination app that will also facilitate direct, specific, immediate, zero overhead, 100% transparent aid donations. C'8 is a purely altruistic tool of the people and will be open source, free and available to all. We need your support / help getting the word out before we launch a KickStarter campaign to proportionately pay all that contribute to writing the software code. Thank you! (C'8 also has a charitable aid related Report Abuses feature to help reduce abuses and corruption.)

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