Giving Locally to Help Globally
Local-level organizations continue to be overlooked with regard to national and international aid efforts. Japan is suffering through an earthquake and tsunami of historic proportions. When natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the aforementioned earthquake occur, individuals seek out ways to support these causes through monetary and supply donations.
An individual’s first reaction is to reach out to popular national organizations, which do a good job of giving aid in a time of crisis. However, local charities and organizations can also assist in global efforts. Giving locally allows you to speak directly to someone while gaining an understanding of how a donation is being used.
For local nonprofits, the focus should be on educating the public on their mission and how their services can apply to disasters of such large magnitudes. Critical needs are vital, but broader, long-term issues will need to be addressed as well, and can be key points of emphasis for the local organization.
Such issues include:
- General Health – nutrition, sanitation, hygiene
- Mental Health
- Child Protection
- Agriculture and Environment
- Economic Stimulus
PMA has outlined some ideas for local efforts that can have effects globally.
- Local Hospitals: After September 11th and Hurricane Katrina, hospitals around the country asked for blood donations to help with those injured during these events. Having the blood drives ensured that blood would be available in disaster areas, as well as on a local level.
- Community Foundations: While community foundations are set up to help community organizations, they do work with those who wish to use or set up donor advised funds specifically for disaster aid. It also helps to have an advocate locally to understand how money will be spent when donated.
- Religious Organizations: Religious organizations like your place of worship often work to help with disasters. Mission trips are organized to assist with the rebuilding of homes and offices, and to bring supplies to places in need. Donations are often needed to send volunteers to these areas.
- Your Employer: A number of companies set up drives to send money to disaster-stricken areas around the world. It can be as easy as setting up an automatic draft from your paycheck or bank account to help. Funds get sent to aid organizations either locally, nationally or internationally.
Rather than watching donors write checks blindly, nonprofits have an opportunity to assert their civic leadership by identifying key issues within the framework of their mission or core vision. Only then will local organizations be able to demonstrate effective stewardship of donor dollars.