Thursday, January 14, 2010

What should non emergency charities do in an emergency?

The answer to this is pretty simple. Continue doing what you were already doing.

The tragic events of the past 24 hours in Haiti are exactly that. Tragic. And unthinkable what the people there are going through. My heart goes out to those who are suffering as a result.

But it doesn't stop the quest to find a cure for breast cancer, nor help that sick puppy being abused and in need of attention.

If we look back to emergencies over the last decade, the Tsunami, 9/11 to name just a couple. The organization’s who suffered are the ones who did.... nothing. That is, scaled back on fundraising.

Don't commit fundraising suicide. Check out this article with some more evidence from the Tsunami experience and why you should solider on as normal.


PS Hats off to the disaster relief organization’s who had emergency appeals out within 24 hours, particularly the American Red Cross who had an email in my inbox just 6 hours after the earthquake hit.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jonathon

Is there any reason why we should congratualte the chaoty that get theri appeal out first? Does first mean best? Can speed comprimise content and organisational intregirty?

Anonymous said...

I can see the speed at which I typed that comment certainly compromised its spelling.

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Hi there

Thanks for your comments, I hope it generates some more discussion. You raise some good points, some of which I will cover in a little more detail in a subsequent post about 'disaster preparedness'.

Getting their appeal our first doesn't necessarily equate to the 'best' (although as a side note it was a good e-appeal), but my experience is that speed is absolutely critical.

And getting out an urgent appeal within 6 hours gave them a great opportunity to generate significant support, following the horrible events in Haiti. In these situations, people responsd, udnerstandably, in an emotional way. It's organization's like the Red Cross' obligation to help fulfils peoples desire to help. I feel the Red Cross gave themselves a great chance of doing this by getting in our inboxes so quickly.

I have to say that from what I've seen (and in particular testing the responsiveness of emergency/disaster donors) 'speed' is actually the biggest factor in generating significant response, both in the first contact and subsequent efforts to solicit again.

That doesn't mean you can send a garbage communication of course, but I'd argue getting an appeal out that does 80% of the stuff it should (urgency, strong call to action, tells a story, deadline, clear proposition) and goes out fast has a better chance of raising large chunsk of income than one that gets 100% of the boxes ticked but takes a week - after going through a laborious sign off process.

So do I think we should compromise integrity? No. But in matters the magnitude of what has just happened, I think donors and/or the general public are somewhat forgiving. People dont care about the look and feel of the communicaiton, about whether it be in a slightly different tone that they're used to receiving. People care and simply want to help.

I hope this answers some of your points.

Thank you again for visiting my blog and generating some discussion.


Jonathon Grapsas said...

Seems I also compromised my spelling as a result of my rapid typing! :)