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128 posts categorized "Disaster Relief"

Weekend Link Roundup (November 3-4, 2012)

November 04, 2012

Sandy_recoveryOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Civil Society

On the NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Niki Jagpal discusses a recent article from the Poverty & Race Research Action Council about the "unsettling statistics on the status of voting rights in our country." According to PRRAC, voter identification laws, early voting restrictions, purging of "legitimate registered voters because of baseless suspicion of their citizenship status," and felon disenfranchisement continue to marginalize low-income individuals, communities of color, younger voters, and the elderly.

Disaster Relief

In the days following the devastating landfall of Superstorm Sandy near Cape May, New Jersey, nonprofit bloggers were busy sharing resources for those interested in contributing to relief and recovery efforts. On her Have Fun, Do Good blog, Britt Bravo has compiled a list of articles and Web sites that suggest ways to donate and volunteer; Idealist's Allison Jones has a few additional suggestions for New Yorkers looking to get involved in relief and recovery efforts; and longtime New Jersey resident Nancy Schwartz suggests three organizations on the ground in that state -- the NYC Rescue Mission, the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey -- that are "providing services right now and need your help to keep it up."

Looking at the response to the storm through a tech/data lens, Philanthropy 2173 blogger Lucy Bernholz tracks, in a series of posts, the many ways in which organizations and individuals used information communication technologies during and after the storm, while the Weakonomist looks at how Sandy might affect the economy.

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (October 2012)

November 01, 2012

Here in Manhattan, things post-Sandy are slooowly getting back to normal. For tens of thousands of people in Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey, "normal" will never be the same. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who lost loved ones. For everyone else, these were the most popular posts on PhilanTopic in October:

What have you read/watched/listened to lately that you liked?

Corporations Pledge Support for Sandy Relief and Recovery Efforts

October 31, 2012

Sandy-AftermathAs officials from North Carolina to New Hampshire continue to assess the damage left by Superstorm Sandy, a number of financial institutions have announced million-dollar grants to the American Red Cross and other organizations for relief and recovery efforts.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Citi Foundation had announced a donation of $1 million to the American Red Cross for relief efforts, while TD Bank Group and the TD Charitable Foundation had pledged a total of $500,000. HSBC USA also announced a $1 million commitment for disaster recovery efforts, including $500,000 to the American Red Cross in Greater New York, and said it would match dollar-for-dollar all employee donations to relief efforts through its employee giving program and would work with community partners to provide emergency housing and financial assistance in affected communities. And the Bank of America Charitable Foundation announced its own donation of $1 million, including $500,000 to the American Red Cross Hurricanes 2012 fund. The remaining $500,000 will be directed to national, regional, and local nonprofits to support long-term recovery needs in affected communities.

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Hurricane Sandy Resource Page

October 30, 2012

Hurricane-sandy-surgeSandy, the largest storm ever observed in the Atlantic, has moved inland, and local, state, and federal officials are scrambling to assess the damage. The Jersey shore was devastated, as was a neighborhood in the beachfront Queens community of Breezy Point, where more than a hundred and ten homes were destroyed by fire Monday night.

Manhattan (where mass transit and a quarter of the power grid are down) got lucky; if the storm had continued to meander in a northwesterly direction, instead of speeding up and veering sharply to the west, the city would've taken an almost direct hit at high tide under a full moon -- a nightmare scenario.

Still, the damage in the storm's wake is enormous. Countless numbers of trees have been uprooted and millions of people are without power. In some neighborhoods, power won't be restored for weeks, and communities up and down the coast, especially in New Jersey, will be cleaning up for months. Bloomberg estimates that the economic toll from the storm could surpass $20 billion.

We've put together a list of resources for those affected by the storm and/or who are interested in contributing to clean up and recovery efforts. If you know of other resources that should be added, please e-mail us at

Good luck and speedy recovery to all.

Updated: 10:30 p.m. EST, Friday, November 15


To find a Red Cross shelter, download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross Web site, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), text "**REDCROSS" (**73327677), or check their local media outlets.

From the blog: To find a shelter near you, text “Shelter” and a zip code to 43362 (example: Shelter 01234). You can also download the FEMA mobile app, which includes a maps/shelter tab.


AARP Foundation Relief Fund

American Red Cross

Community Foundation for the National Capital Region - Neighbors in Need: Sandy Relief Fund

Using the Crowdrise platform, CraigsList founder Craig Newmark is matching the first $25,000 in donations to Sandy relief efforts. Update: Newmark's $25,000 was matched in a matter of days.

Daily News Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund
New York's "hometown newspaper" has started a Sandy relief fund and pledges that all funds raised will go directly to those in need. Make checks out to Daily News Charities, specify in the memo field or in a note that the donation is for the Hurricane Sandy Relief fund, and mail to:

New York Daily News
4 New York Plaza
New York, NY 10004

Feeding America

Global Giving - Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund

Great Nonprofits

Hurricane Sandy Long Island Disaster Relief Fund
-- Donate online (, or make a check payable to:

Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Newsday Charities Processing Center
25257 Network Place
Chicago, IL 60673-1252

Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City

New Jersey Recovery Fund

Network for Good

North Star Fund's Grassroots Hurricane Relief Fund

Salvation Army

Save the Children - Hurricane Sandy Children in Emergency Fund

United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund


City Harvest

Community Foodbank of New Jersey

Met Council

Food Bank for NYC

Island Harvest

Long Island Cares

Sustainable Long Island


Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Council on Foundations' Disaster Grantmaking page

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation - Philanthropic Grantmaking for Disasters

Haiti Relief

Hurricane Sandy Emergency Outreach - Haiti

Mobile Donations

Text HUMANE to 80888 to donate $10 on behalf of the American Humane Association

Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 on behalf of the American Red Cross

Text SANDY to 80088 to donate $10 on behalf of Global Giving

Text STORM to 80888 to donate $10 on behalf of the Salvation Army

Text SUSTAIN to 20222 and reply YES to donate $10 on behalf of the Met Council

Text RECOVERY to 52000 to donate $10 on behalf of United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund

Text GIVEUSA to 777444 to donate $10 on behalf of World Vision

Volunteer Opportunities

NYC Service

Other Resources, Disaster Assistance

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Brooklynites who sustained property damage in Hurricane Sandy can apply for funds from FEMA. To request federal aid, register at, or call (800) 621–3362. The agency asks that applicants have their address, insurance information, and social security number ready. (Source: The Brooklyn Paper)

New Jersey Office of Emergency Management

New York City Mayor's Office

New York City Office of Emergency Management

New York City Transit Tracker

New York State Office of Emergency Management

Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management

Twitter's Hurricane Sandy Resource List

Weekend Link Roundup (October 13-14, 2012)

October 14, 2012

Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


In a guest post on the Communication Network blog, Hattaway Communication's Doug Hattaway shares a couple of insights based on psychology and neuroscience into how people make decisions:

Insight 1: Two mental systems work together to drive decision-making and behavior. Effective communications influence both intuition and cognition -- encouraging instant intuitive judgments and enabling fluent cognitive reasoning.

Insight 2: People are more likely to trust information that they easily understand. "Fluency" theory holds that if people readily comprehend an idea or information, they are more likely to believe it. Being easy-to-understand obviously doesn't mean the information is more reliable, but people are more likely to perceive it as true. Hattaway's advice for nonprofit communicators: "It's smart to dumb things down."

In a post on her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Network for Good's Katya Andresen shares seven tips designed to improve the stories that nonprofits tell about their impact, the people they help, and their generous supporters.

Disaster Relief

Eye-opening article by Deborah Sontag in the New York Times about Yéle Haiti, the charity created by Haitian-American hip hop artist Wyclef Jean in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake to help the people of that impoverished country.

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Weekend Link Roundup (September 15-16, 2012)

September 16, 2012

Lincoln-McClellan-AntietamOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


Looking to create or strengthen a tagline for your organization? Nonprofit marketing expert Nancy Schwartz has selected sixty-three nonprofit taglines from fourteen hundred submitted to her Getting Attention blog over the summer and is asking readers to help choose the 2012 Nonprofit Tagline Award winners. Voting is open through midnight on October 5, and if you subscribe to the Getting Attention e-update while you're on the site, you'll get a free copy of the 2013 Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Report (due in late fall).

In a post on the Communications Network blog, Louis Herr says that "limiting Web evaluation to a clickstream product like Google Analytics starves you of critical information." In his post, Herr highlights the argument made by Avinash Kaushik in Web Analytics: An Hour a Day -- to wit, that to be truly actionable, Web analytics should focus on measures of behavior, outcome, and experience, not just page views and click counts.


On the Philanthropy Potluck blog, Lissa Jones, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Minnesota Council on Foundations, discusses the implications of the Millennium Communications Group's Donors of the Future Scan, which identified twelve key trends in giving. Those trends include a giving population that is growing more diverse, increasing pressure on endowed giving, and the growing popularity of "flash" and Internet giving portals.

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Weekend Link Roundup (August 11-12, 2012)

August 12, 2012

Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


Welcome to the Fifth Estate author Geoff Livingston has a list of tips for artists and writers seeking to brand and market themselves. The list includes:

  • Focus on actions.
  • Go beyond Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Monitor social media conversations.
  • Let your fans embrace your experience.

Disaster Relief

GiveWell's Holden Karnofsky shares findings from a recent evaluation of charities working to help people in Japan recover from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern part of the country in 2011. After reviewing reports about their activities over the past twelve months, Karnofsky concludes that he and his partners "stand by the conclusions we reached last year: that the relief and recovery effort did not have room for more funding, that those interested in emergency relief should have donated to Doctors Without Borders, and that those determined to help Japan specifically should have donated to the Japanese Red Cross."

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Weekend Link Roundup (July7-8, 2012)

July 08, 2012

Sun_tempOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Civic Engagement

On the Knight Blog, Elizabeth Miller looks at the report The Civic Tripod for Mobile and Games: Activism, Art and Learning, which explores the three dimensions of mobile games that focus on art or neighborhood civics: civic learning, performance/art, and social change. "Learning is inherent in games, since their engagement depends on providing challenges that are just barely possible," the report's authors note. "And when games are tied to physical space,

their action ties to learning about our own neighborhoods -- how to move through them, and to change them. The art of such games is often the physical world itself, with better sounds and graphics than any screen! And the digital side of games draws in the civic, if only because it is so easy to link to more information on how to take action, or how to learn more. In other words, the experiential nature of games pulls mobile experiences on civics into being a mix of art and learning....

Disaster Relief

On her Nonprofit Charitable Orgs blog, Joanne Fritz offers tips on how to help those affected by the wildfires raging in Colorado and elsewhere out West.


Fundraising is a valuable skill that nonprofits cannot afford to underinvest in, argues Joe Garecht on the Fundraising Authority blog. It is also a marketable skill that a good fundraiser can take to another organization if, as the title of his post suggests, "You Aren't Paying Your Development Staff Enough." Writes Garecht:

If your organization's executive director is making $150,000 per year and the top development staff member is making $60,000 per year, your nonprofit is in trouble. Likewise, if your organization is raising $5,000,000 per year and you only have one full-time development person, your nonprofit is in trouble. Under either scenario, you will never raise what you really could and should raise, and

never do all of the good that you really could do, simply because you aren't making a big enough investment in your development [function]....

"It seems that the Great Recession is similar to the Great Depression in one more way -- the drastic drop in large charitable gifts," writes Joanne Fritz in another post on her Nonprofit Charitable Orgs blog. Citing the Chronicle of Philanthropy's  Holly Hall, who found that the decline in large charitable gifts between 2007-10 mirrors a similarly precipitous drop between 1931-45, Fritz writes: "I have trouble with the idea that our tough economic times have been a match for the Great Depression, or that the decline in large charitable gifts will last as long. But I do think that large, monolithic fundraising campaigns of any kind are doomed...."


Gene Takagi has an excellent post on the Nonprofit Law blog, which he co-authors with Emily Chan, about the roles and duties of nonprofit board members.


On the Forbes site, contributor Lori Kozlowski chats with Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin about the meaning of philanthropic innovation in 2012.

Social Media

"Although we often focus our discussion on how organizations can use social media for marketing and fundraising, the best reason for nonprofits and foundations to be on social media is to practice thought leadership," writes Rosetta Thurman in a post on her eponymous blog. "When it comes to foundations in particular, this opportunity can be even more impactful, as they are often seen as conveners, curators and catalysts for change within the nonprofit community." Thurman goes on to single out the Geraldine Dodge Foundation, the Rasmuson Foundation, and the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region for blogging "not just to share information, but to influence public opinion and community collaboration."

And on the First Giving blog, Taylor Corrado highlights six nonprofit branding lessons from the book Made to Stick, by Dan and Chip Heath:

  1. Keep it simple -- Don't dumb it down, but get straight to the point.
  2. Embrace the unexpected -- In other words, create curiosity.
  3. Be concrete -- Provide details, examples, and facts.
  4. Be credible -- Testimonials from beneficiaries are more effective than those from board members.
  5. Don't shy away from emotion -- Humans respond better to emotions than statistics.
  6. Think "story" -- Good stories are unexpected, filled with concrete details, and should always be emotional.

That's it for this week. What did we miss? Drop us a line at

-- The Editors

One Year Later: Rebuilding After the Great Tōhoku Earthquake

March 09, 2012

James Gannon is executive director of the Japan Center for International Exchange/USA, which works to strengthen U.S.-Japan cooperation across a range of fields. Recently, Laura Cronin, a regular contributor to PhilanTopic, spoke with Gannon about the progress of rebuilding efforts in the quake- and tsunami-affected Tohoku region of the country.

James_gannon.jpgPhilanthropy News Digest: The earthquake and tsunami affected a four hundred-mile region along the northeastern coast of Japan -- an area roughly comparable to the BosWash corridor in the United States. What are conditions in the region like now, a year later? And how have people in the affected region, and the country at large, been changed as a result of the disaster?

James Gannon: Even now, some communities are still disposing of rubble, while things appear almost normal in other, less-hard-hit areas. Compared to the scenes of utter devastation we saw a year ago, there has been extraordinary progress. But if you spend any time in these communities, you realize the depth of the wounds. More than three hundred thousand people are still without homes, and that is weakening traditional community ties. Many of the jobs in the fishing industry, agriculture, and small business have not returned, resulting in high unemployment and all the social problems it brings.

Meanwhile, women who lost family members, men who are ashamed that they can no longer support their families, and children traumatized by the disaster are grappling with mental health issues. The stoicism of the people in the Tōhoku region is stunning -- even by Japanese standards -- but most acknowledge that the road to recovery will be long.

On the other hand, there has been a resurgence of ambition and a sense of mission in the country. Seeing what's at stake, many people -- especially young people -- are losing patience with the status quo, and that is bound to affect politics, business, and society in general. In particular, many young people are searching for ways to contribute to the recovery by seeking out careers in the nonprofit sector, partly because Japanese nonprofits have played such a visible and indispensable role in helping the nation recover from the disaster. It is not entirely accurate, but some people cite the 1995 Kobe earthquake, when thousands of volunteers streamed into the city to help, as the birth of civil society in Japan. To extend the analogy, the 3/11 disaster is likely to be seen by historians as the coming of age of Japanese civil society.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (January 21-22, 2012)

January 22, 2012

Citizens-united-bigbucksOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Civil Society

Filming at the 20th anniversary INTRAC conference in Oxford, England, Nicetreefilms interviewed Demos senior fellow Michael Edwards, author of Just Another Emperor? The Myths and Realities of Philanthrocapitalism (2008) and Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World (2010), about the role and future of civil society via-a-vis business and the public sector.

To mark the second anniversary of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruling that said corporations have the same right as people to spend money in elections, Demos has curated a dozen or so blog posts, articles, policy briefs, and multimedia presentations that highlight the anti-democracy implications of the decision.

Disaster Relief

On the heels of the two-year anniversary of the earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands in Haiti and left up to a million more homeless, the Adventure Project's Becky Straw spotlights a couple of social enterprises that are using technology to boost the Caribbean nation's economy.


On her blog, Joanne Fritz responds to Getting Attention blogger Nancy Schwartz' MLK Day-inspired call for nonprofit bloggers to write about their dreams for the sector by sharing her hopes for the charities she admires: that they do not become stuck in the past; that their fundraising appeals address the big social issues of our day; and that they work to create organizational cultures that value learning, adequately reward hard work, and treasure the people who engage with their causes.

And on her blog, Allison Fine, co-author (with Beth Kanter) of the Networked Nonprofit, says her dream "is for organizational leaders to switch from viewing the world through a lens of scarcity to one of abundance...."

Elsewhere, How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar co-author Rosetta Thurman shares eleven tips guaranteed to make your search for a job in the nonprofit sector a successful one.


Writing on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Paul Beaudet, associate director of the Seattle-based Wilburforce Foundation, explains why funders need to stop asking nonprofits to "do more with less."


On his Harvard Business Review blog, Uncharitable author Dan Pallotta criticizes New York governor Andrew Cuomo for launching a nonprofit "executive pay witch hunt." "Elected officials consistently conflate smart investments in the talent, organizational strength, and long-term planning necessary to address massive social problems with fraud," writes Pallotta. "Why? Because they lack a fundamental understanding of how long-term social problems get solved and because the humanitarian sector has been too terrified to stand up to them."

Social Media

And Social Media for Social Good author Heather Mansfield explains why Pinterest, a new invitation-only social networking site that allows users to create virtual "pinboards," is worth your nonprofit organization's time.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at And have a great week!

-- The Editors

Weekend Link Roundup (January 14-15, 2012)

January 14, 2012

ColdBirdOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Disaster Relief

On the two-year anniversary of the earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people and left over a million Haitians homeless, the Chronicle of Philanthropy has an updated look at how sixty aid groups spent the money they raised for relief and recovery efforts. (Requires subscription.)

And Sandra Miniutti advises those who donated to relief and recovery efforts to "check back" with the organization(s) to which they gave. "Find out what the charity been able to accomplish. If you like what you hear and the charity says it has ongoing needs, then consider making a follow-up donation to support those ongoing efforts."


A recent post on the Give2Asia blog profiles the Afghan Institute of Learning, a Give2Asia grantee, and its founding executive director, Dr. Sakena Yacoobi. Established surreptitiously during the early days of Taliban rule, AIL organized and operated a network of eighty underground schools that educated three thousand girls across the country. Today, Yacoobi's organization operates in the open and has touched more than 8 million Afghans through its network of schools, teacher and nurse training programs, and healthcare services.


Using findings from the Ford Foundation-sponsored report Transactions, Transformations, Translations: Metrics That Matter for Building, Scaling and Funding Social Movements, Beth Kanter considers the opportunities and challenges involved in measuring the impact of social change movements and networks.


The Bridgespan Group's Alison Powell reviews a recent Foundation Center report that examined the center's own grantseeking processes as a way to highlight some of the costs of capital that donors impose on all grantseekers.

On the Philanthropy Potluck blog, Naomi Pesky, director of marketing and communications at Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, shares a recent video created by the organization as part of its ongoing efforts to make its grantmaking processes more transparent.

In a post on her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz looks at at a handful of recent reports on giving, including one from the Pew Center for the Internet & American Life and Harvard's Berkman Center that looks at mobile giving in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. According to the report, the majority of people who used their cell phones to give to relief and recovery efforts made a spur-of-the-moment decision to do so and then told their family and friends to donate via text message as well. In her post, Bernholz wonders how this type of "tech-enabled" giving might change how and why philanthropic research is conducted.'s Joanne Fritz shares a new infographic from Frugal Dad that highlights the impact of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates's philanthropic work.

Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan takes a close look at Oliver Zunz's new book Philanthropy in America and uncovers "seven examples of things [in philanthropy] that are often portrayed as new -- or not done -- despite the fact that this is not, historically, the case."

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy's Kevin Laskowski shares his new year’s resolution for philanthropy: increase funding for community organizing among lower-income communities and "Emerging Majority" communities. Writes Laskowski:

I’m sure you're shocked to hear this from someone here at NCRP. However, one thing we saw in 2011 and we will likely continue to see in 2012 is the robust participation of some philanthropists in important public policy debates. Bill Gates, Eli Broad and others have played a large role in shaping the discussions about education reform efforts. A number of conservative philanthropies, such as the Koch brothers and the Bradley Foundation, have had an outsized influence on national debates for some time. Some see this involvement as a pernicious force in our democracy, but my concern is not that the wealthy participate in politics. My concern is that they're increasingly the only ones who do or can....


And on the Credit Writedowns site, Rick Bookstaber looks at the role computers and technology are playing in the destruction of the middle class.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at And have a great week!

-- The Editors

2011 Year in Review: A Disastrous Twelve Months

December 29, 2011

Fourteen months after a magnitude 7.0 quake brought devastation to Haiti, disaster on an epic scale struck again in March when the most powerful earthquake ever to hit Japan triggered huge tsunami waves that inundated coastal regions of the Tohoku region. The twin disasters, which claimed the lives of nearly 16,000 people and displaced some 440,000 people, also were responsible for a series of partial meltdowns and releases of radioactive material at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex on the coast northeast of Tokyo, resulting in the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people and raising global concerns about the safety of nuclear power.

The initial response to the disaster -- which, with an estimated economic cost north of $200 billion, figures to be the most expensive in history -- was one of restraint, as the Japanese government asked donor governments and individuals in other countries to hold off on providing emergency assistance until it could more clearly identify needs in the stricken region. A week after the disaster, the fifteen largest relief organizations had raised the relatively modest total of $25 million -- a figure that eventually surpassed $160 million -- with most of that collected by the American Red Cross. The global corporate community, on the other hand, moved quickly to assist one of its biggest trading and investment partners, contributing over a $137 million for relief efforts in just three and a half days.

Closer to home, spring brought unusually violent weather to the United States, as first Alabama, where more than three hundred people were killed and thousands left homeless after more than a hundred tornadoes ripped through the state in April, and then Joplin, Missouri, large portions of which were leveled by a killer tornado in May, bore the brunt of the assault.

An entirely different kind of disaster, severe drought, tightened its grip on the Horn of Africa as spring turned to summer. Indeed, by mid-July drought conditions had left more than twelve million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and neighboring countries in need of emergency assistance, and parts of southern and central Somalia were later declared famine zones by the UN. Much of that territory, of course, was controlled by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group that has prevented many international aid organizations from operating in the region. As the crisis intensified, the U.S. government issued new guidelines making it easier for such groups to deliver needed food to famine-stricken parts of the country without fear of prosecution -- a decision hailed by most NGOs, even though it appeared to apply only to the situation in Somalia.

Pakistan, which continues to struggle with its own Islamist and tribal insurgencies, was hit with serious flooding in August for the second consecutive year, resulting in another sluggish response from that South Asian country’s feckless government -- and a lukewarm relief effort from the international community.

In contrast, even the best-laid disaster-preparedness plans were no match for Hurricane Irene, which in August left a trail of destruction from South Carolina to Vermont, causing at least 56 deaths and an estimated $7.2 billion in damage, before finally exhausting itself over Labrador.

After yet another major quake, this one in eastern Turkey in October, it looked as if the year would end on a quiet note. But then flash floods struck the Philippines in late December, causing more than nine hundred deaths and bringing to a close a year that, in disaster terms, will go down as one for the record books.

Related Links:

Businesses, Charities Step Forward With Assistance for Stricken Japan (3/15/11)

Donations to Japan Quake Relief Efforts Trickling In (3/16/11)

Corporate Donations to Japan Earthquake Relief Efforts May Surpass Haiti Contributions (3/17/11)

U.S. Relief Organizations Defer to Japanese Agencies as Rescue Efforts Continue (3/18/11)

Fundraising for Japan Disaster Relief Surpasses $100 Million Mark (3/22/11)

One Month After Disaster, Red Cross Commits Additional $40 Million for Japan Relief (4/13/11)

American Red Cross Contributes Additional $30 Million for Recovery Efforts in Japan (5/02/11)

Needs Mount as Alabama Digs Out After Tornadoes (5/04/11)

Organization Formed to Spur Recovery in Tornado-Ravaged Joplin (6/22/11)

Disaster Relief Agencies Raised $22.3 Million for Tornado Relief Efforts in Alabama (7/26/11)

Somalia Famine Aid Trickles In (8/03/11)

U.S. Issues New Guidelines Loosening Aid Restrictions to Famine-Stricken Somalia (8/04/11)

United Arab Emirates Pledges $1 Million to Joplin High School (8/13/11)

Red Cross Contributions to Japan Tsunami Relief Efforts Reach $260 Million (8/24/11)

Corporations, Foundations Pledge $1.75 Million to Hurricane Irene Disaster Relief Efforts (9/02/11)

International Red Cross Begins Major Aid Push in Somali Famine Zones (10/06/11)

Turkish Red Crescent, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Mount Earthquake Recovery Operations (10/25/11)

Coca-Cola Foundation Awards $1 Million to Turkish Red Crescent Society (10/27/11)

UN Launches 2012 Somalia Aid Appeal, Warns About Impending Crisis in the Sahel (12/14/11)

Lilly Endowment Awards $1.5 Million to Joplin Recovery Fund (12/24/11)

Weekend Link Roundup (December 17 - 18, 2011)

December 18, 2011

ChestnutpanOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


In a post on her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Network for Good's Katya Andresen weighs in on a new Silverpop white paper that looks at where digital marketing trends are headed. Among other things, writes Andresen, nonprofit marketing staff should expect their work to become more personal, "human," and mobile in 2012.

Disaster Relief

On Oxfam International's From Poverty to Power blog, Chris Anderson, Oxfam's global adviser for disaster risk reduction, makes the case for more investment in disaster preparedness, noting that investment in DRR accounts for less than 1 percent of official humanitarian assistance to the world's twenty biggest recipients of such assistance.


Rosetta Thurman shares a new article from the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group in which Katherine E. Jacobs and Andrew Grant-Thomas explain that when it comes to recruiting there "is no such thing as a diverse candidate."


Writing about federal education policy in the New York Times ("Class Matters. Why Won't We Admit It?"), Helen Ladd, a professor of public policy and economics at Duke, and Edward B. Fiske, a former education editor at the Times and the author of the Fiske Guide to Colleges, pose what they believe is a critical question: "Why do presumably well-intentioned policy makers ignore, or deny, the correlations of family background and student achievement?" Ladd and Fiske propose that rationales for ignoring such correlations range from a belief that schools are capable of offsetting the effects of poverty, to not wanting to lower expectations for poor students, to the huge challenges posed by tackling poverty as a whole. "Let's agree," they write in closing, "that we know a lot about how to address the ways in which poverty undermines student learning. Whether we choose to face up to that reality is ultimately a moral question."

Global Health

On his Humanosphere blog, Tom Paulson has some nice things to say about Seattle-based PATH's acquisition of the nonprofit drug company OneWorld Health.


On his Inside Philanthropy blog, Todd Cohen commends foundations and corporations for "moving beyond grantmaking and investing more of their assets to address critical social and global problems." "[T]hat kind of innovation," adds Cohen, "is critical to help make the social economy more productive in serving people and places in need."

Philanthropy 2173's Lucy Bernholz shares her annual list of new buzzwords and phrases, including evidence based, shapeshifting, and disruption.

Social Media

Nonprofits shouldn't confuse content curation -- "the organizing, filtering and 'making sense of' information on the web" -- as aggregation, writes social media expert Beth Kanter in a recent post on her blog. "The debate in content curation circles [right now]," adds Kanter, "is that [if] we treat content curation as aggregation, then we’ll miss the point and just create noise. We don't need more content but a human point of view guided by intelligent tools that can help others find and make sense of the information and resources out there."


On the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog, Bill Somerville, executive director of the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, offers his take on the relationship between transparency and effectiveness that was the subject of recent event in San Francisco co-hosted by the Foundation Center and the Center for Effective Philanthropy. Writes Somerville:

Does transparency and glass pockets help effectiveness? I don't know. What difference does it make for people to know foundation salaries? If it does make a difference, then we are talking about accountability not effectiveness. Is the foundation accountable in being efficient, frugal, responsible, responsive and productive?

Foundations have a special place in the community in that they are answerable to themselves. They are independent and have maximum latitude to do their work. They have a unique asset in that their money is not political, not in competition with anything or anyone, and they have no ax to grind. So, what are the factors of excellence in the exercise of philanthropy? A question foundation personnel should ask themselves every day....

One is leadership. Foundations should exercise leadership in their willingness to venture where others haven't gone, to take risks, to think into the future rather than indulge themselves in endless paper. A leader is one who brings out the best in others. Isn't this what foundations should be doing?

Another factor of excellence is modesty. Money is the tool of philanthropy and money is power. Foundation personnel must understand that it is not their money nor is it their power. Foundations are investing funds in people and programs worthy of the investment. They are not "giving money away."

Somerville concludes by noting that his comments are meant to "create a dialogue and stimulate other people to add their thoughts on what makes for effectiveness." Here's your chance to join that conversation. What do you think an "effective" foundation looks like? And what is the relationship between transparency and accountability? Use the comments section to share your thoughts....

That's it for now. With the holidays looming, most of our shopping still be done, and miles to go before we sleep, we'll be posting a little less frequently over the next couple of weeks. Here's hoping you get to spend time with friends and loved ones. Have a great holiday!

-- The Editors

Yéle Haiti Responds to NY Post Allegations

November 30, 2011

Haiti_earthquake_10Yesterday, we posted a digested version of a November 27 New York Post article ("Questions Dog Wyclef's Haiti Fund") which suggested that earthquake-relief funds raised by Yéle Haiti, a charity co-founded by hip-hop star Wyclef Jean (who is Haitian), in the months after the quake had been used improperly. At the heart of the Post's allegations are P&A Construction, which is run by Warnel Pierre, the brother of Jean's wife, Claudinette, and two independent contractors, Miami-based Amisphere Farm Labor Inc. and Samosa SA, in Port-au-Prince.

That article generated the following response from Hugh Locke, a co-founder of Yéle Haiti who served initially as executive director of the charity's Haiti operation and then as president of the combined Haiti and U.S. operations (until this past February). In the interest of fairness (and the facts), we thought it was important to reprint Locke's comments in their entirety.

Feel free to weigh in on Locke's comments, the Post's reporting, and/or our version of the Post story in the comments section below.



My name is Hugh Locke and I was until earlier this year the president of Yéle Haiti. I would like to set the record straight regarding the NY Post article.

Bad journalism can be the result of sloppiness, incompetence, or a distortion of facts in order to serve a bias or editorial agenda. All three of these traits are on full and splendid display in the November 27, 2011, New York Post article "Questions Dog Wyclef's Haiti Fund" by Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein. These two reporters have Wyclef Jean, co-founder of Yéle Haiti along with Jerry Duplessis and myself, in their sights in a no-holds-barred effort to sell papers, and no pesky truth is going to stand in their way.

The Yéle staff and our various partners who braved a chaotic and dangerous situation in order to deliver emergency relief to victims of the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti are true heroes in my book. Ms. Vincent and Ms. Klein cannot be allowed to discredit our collective efforts with falsehood and innuendo. What follows are the facts and figures to counter to each accusation in their Post article.

1. How much did Yéle receive in donations following the earthquake in Haiti and how much of that money was used for emergency relief?

NY Post: "In the months following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, a charity run by hip-hop star Wyclef Jean spent a pittance of the money it took in on disaster relief and doled out millions in questionable contracts....Records show that Yele Haiti spent just $5.1 million for emergency relief efforts, including food and water delivery to makeshift survivor camps...."

HL Response: As reported in Yéle Haiti’s 2010 IRS 990 tax filing, the organization received $16 million in donations that year (figures quoted are rounded off). More than half of these donations were received in the weeks immediately following the earthquake. Over the course of 2010 we spent a total of $9.2 million -- $8.2 million for programs (most of that for emergency relief and a small portion for other Yéle programs) and $1 million (or roughly 11 percent) on administrative overhead. Yéle made a decision not to expend all the funds raised in 2010 during that same year because people in the tent camps continued to need support. Consequently $6.8 million was carried over to cover operations in 2011.

Clarifications about contracts, none of which were "questionable," are answered in the points that follow.

Yéle’s activities in 2010 were a combination of emergency relief and long-term rebuilding. Here is an overview of what we accomplished.

Emergency Relief: Yéle worked with non-elected community leaders and elders within a core group of 30 of the tent camps throughout Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas to identify needs and coordinate aid delivery. These targeted camps had a combined population of just under 80,000. Here is a summary of what was distributed by Yéle over the course of 2010:

  • 2,000 tents of various sizes
  • 873 tarp kits for building shelters
  • 4.2 million gallons of filtered water delivered in trucks (including to cholera areas)
  • 233,000 10-ounce pouches of water
  • 32,850 bottles of water in various sizes
  • 98,000 hot meals
  • 14,400 items of canned and packaged food
  • 270,310 nutrition bars
  • 4,425 individual care bags with personal toiletries and other items
  • 8,705 items of new and used clothing
  • 3,520 pairs of new and used shoes
  • 1,000 pairs of new boots
  • 14,300 pounds of medical supplies
  • 1,240 windup and/or solar flashlights
  • 2,500 windup and/or solar radios
  • 26 generators
  • 900 sheets and blankets

In response to the cholera outbreak in October of 2010, Yéle purchased 2 million water purification tablets and received a donation of 50,000 bars of soap and 100,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. These items were distributed by going tent to tent in the camps, noting that a portion of them were distributed in 2011.

Employment: There were very few jobs following the earthquake and even fewer for the 1.3 million people living in tent camps. Yéle began a program in 2010 that employed up to 2,000 people at a time to clean the streets of Port-au-Prince, paying them a respectable $7 a day. Towards the end of the year a vocational training program in carpentry, plumbing, and masonry was added to give youth marketable job skills.

Youth Development & Education: Yéle provided weekly support for two residential orphanages that were damaged in the earthquake. In additional to providing operational costs, one orphanage was completely rebuilt and more than doubled in size while the second was repaired and some additional facilities added. Yéle managed an onsite medical service for all the orphans as well.

Tree Planting & Agriculture: Haiti has less than 2 percent tree cover and imports roughly 70 percent of its food. Yele’s response in 2010 was to increase the capacity of local farmers, working with them to plant trees and introduce better farming practices that resulted in higher yields. A second Yéle program involved commissioning peasant farmers to grow vegetables that were delivered weekly to up to 2,000 orphans.

2. What was the role of Amisphere Farm Labor Inc. in Yéle’s emergency relief efforts?

NY Post: "A purported Miami business called Amisphere Farm Labor Inc. received a whopping $1,008,000 as a 'food distributor'. No trace of the company could be found last week in the Sunshine State, but records show the company’s head, Amsterly Pierre, bought three properties in Florida last year, including a condo in an upscale waterfront community.

"The firm incorporated in August 2008 but never filed any of the subsequent financial paperwork required to do business in Florida, according to the Florida Department of State.

"The address listed for the business is an auto-repair shop in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood, where a worker said he had never heard of Pierre or Amisphere. Pierre did not return a call for comment...."

HL Response: Getting food to people who were in makeshift tent camps following the earthquake was a priority. It was particularly important to send in hot meals because people had limited capacity to cook in the camps. With this in mind we approached Amsterly Pierre, a businessman in Haiti who had experience in this field, and asked him to set up the operation on our behalf. For this purpose he used the bank account of a company he had registered in the US, Amisphere, because the banks were not yet functioning in Haiti.

In the midst of the chaos that characterized Port-au-Prince at that time, Mr. Pierre used his operation on the ground there to find a kitchen that, although damaged, could be made operational with a minimum of effort. He found sources of food, some of which had to be brought in by truck from the Dominican Republic, and assembled a staff that could cook and deliver thousands of meals at a time.

The hot meal program began on January 24 with the first distribution of hot meals to tent camps, with a particular focus on women and children living there. Over the next three months a total of 98,000 hot meals were served in the course of 15 distributions that ranged between 5,000 and 7,000 at a time.

While the primary emphasis was on the tent camps, during the early phase of the program we provided some of these meals to members of the national police force who were themselves living in tents, as the government was unable to give them any food or wages for the first month and a half following the earthquake. We also provided meals during that same time for a number of civil servants who were in a similar situation but who were determined to stay on the job to do what they could to restore services for the population.

In addition to the hot meals, we also contracted Mr. Pierre to develop a dry food ration kit. These were prepared in the Dominican Republic and brought in by truck and distributed in tent camps. Each kit had enough rations for an average family for one week. A total of 700 of these kits were distributed.

The term "whopping" should be applied to the impact Mr. Pierre had on Yéle’s behalf. Each hot meal fed an average of two people, and the ration kits fed five people for a week -- so through Mr. Pierre we were able to feed around 200,000 people at a cost of about $5 per person at a time when food was scarce, hot meals almost unheard of, and delivery of food into the tent camps was regularly causing riots.

3. What was the role of Samosa SA in Yéle’s emergency relief efforts?

NY Post: "Yele Haiti also paid $577,185 to a company called Samosa SA, based in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, as a 'bulk water supplier'. But some of that money went to rent a house for Yele Haiti volunteers on Samosa’s property at the inflated price of $35,000 a month...."

HL Response: Samosa SA is a Haitian company that Yéle contracted to provide fresh water to those living in tent camps. Samosa utilized 14 of their 1,200-gallon tanker trucks to deliver an average of 34,000 gallons of water a day on a rotating schedule to 30 different tent camps. The water came from an aquifer on the Samosa property and they filtered the water on site using a reverse osmosis process. While Samosa provided the trucks and drivers, Yéle sent its own staff to accompany each delivery -- having made sure that each tent camp would be ready with volunteers to help manage the operation and residents lined up with pails ready to take the water.

Water distribution began on January 24 and over the course of the remainder of 2010 a total of 4.2 million gallons of purified water was distributed at a unit cost of 10¢ a gallon. The unit cost went up in October when half the water was diverted as Yéle contributed to fighting the outbreak of cholera in the rural areas north of Port-au-Prince. The increased cost was a combination of more fuel being required to drive outside the capital plus a bonus paid to the drivers because they were afraid to go into the midst of the cholera outbreak when it had just begun and the population was terrified and did not yet understand how it was spread.

There was a second and separate contract with Samosa SA for Yéle to rent a seven-acre walled property that included a house. The property and house were rented from May 1 onwards for $15,000 a month.

The house was used by Yéle as a center of our relief activities, serving as both headquarters and main office. Our U.S. staff and visiting volunteers also stayed there. The house had three bedrooms and by using mattresses and sleeping bags we were able to accommodate as many as 30 people at a time, depending on the scale of the distributions or other emergency relief programs that were being implemented.

The rest of the property was used as the site of a warehouse operation where relief items such as tents, tarps, blankets, food, clothing, shoes, medical supplies, windup flashlights, windup radios, and other items were stored, sorted, and loaded onto trucks for delivery to the 30 tent camps that we served on a regular basis.

The warehouse operation had two components -- we installed a large concrete slab on which we placed nine permanent 40-foot containers and had space for six more that shuffled between the property and the port. The second component involved a 44-foot diameter geodesic dome that we erected and which was used for both storage and sorting.

Lastly, we built a facility that was intended to serve the needs of amputees. Two geodesic domes were erected, but the facility was not completed when it was discovered that the initial government estimates amputees had been significantly overstated. The two domes were taken down and are currently in storage.

As the overall emergency relief needs in Haiti changed, Yéle subsequently moved out of the rented Samosa property in early 2011.

4. What was the role of P & A Construction in Yéle’s emergency relief efforts?

NY Post: "Yele Haiti paid five contractors to accomplish its goals, including P&A Construction --- which received $353,983 and is run by Warnel Pierre, the brother of Jean’s wife, Claudinette...."

HL Response: Yéle contracted a company called P & A Construction to design and build several things, and in keeping with a policy of transparency we included the fact that the owner of the company is a relative of Wyclef Jean in our IRS 990 tax filing for 2010.

Finding a contractor who can build anything in Haiti on time and on budget is a rarity, and Warnel Pierre was that person. As we did with all contracts, estimates for projects were reviewed against standard costs per square foot or the relevant unit of comparison, depending on the project. In all cases we were satisfied that Mr. Pierre was providing a good service at a competitive rate.

Among the services provided by Mr. Pierre during 2010 were the following:

  • repair and complete rebuilding and expansion of the Jean et Marie Orphanage that had been damaged in the earthquake;
  • repair and the addition of a kitchen, bathrooms, and two new classrooms at the Bon Samaritan Orphanage that had been damaged in the earthquake;
  • installation of electrical power lines, septic and water storage tanks, and a well; re-surfacing with gravel and a drainage system, building of toilets and shower facility, and other upgrades to the Place Fierte tent camp in the Cité Soleil slum of Port-au-Prince;
  • installation of concrete slab and related ramps for container-based warehouse storage;
  • installation of concrete slab base, plumbing, bathrooms, and showers for the amputee facility, including assisting in the installation of two geodesic domes on the site; and
  • installation of concrete slab and surrounding gravel drainage area for geodesic dome used as part of the warehouse operation, including assisting in the installation of the dome.

5. What did Yéle do to ensure transparency of operation?

NY Post: " 'Given the fact that Yele Haiti was involved in a swirl of controversy after the earthquake in Haiti, it's all the more reason to be more transparent to ensure donors that their funds are going to help people,' said the Better Business Bureau’s Bennett Weiner...."

HL Response: Yéle hired the prestigious accounting firm of RSM McGladrey to improve its level of transparency and together we developed one of the most comprehensive and timely systems of disclosure of any NGO working in Haiti. Beginning in September 2010, Yéle regularly updated this financial information on its website.

6. Did Yéle lose $244,000 in 2009?

NY Post: "The group lost $244,000 in 2009...."

HL Response: This allegation is simply made up. Yéle began 2009 with $57,421 in cash on hand that was carried over from the previous year. To that was added donations in 2009 totaling $749,480, for a total of $806,901. We spent $994,344 in 2009, with the difference of $187,443 between what we spent and what we received being invoices that came in the latter part of 2009 and which were paid in 2010. There was no loss.


(Locke is currently writing a book about his six years of humanitarian service in Haiti.)

Is the 'One Campaign' Being Unethical?

October 15, 2011

(Nick Scott is assistant to the publisher at PND. In his previous post, he chatted with Barbara Ibrahim, director of the Gerhart Center for Philanthropy at the American University in Cairo, about the situation in Egypt.)

ONE_Campaign_svgChoose the better tagline to promote disaster relief efforts in the Horn of Africa: "The situation in Somalia is complicated, but we'll do our best." Or, "Let's put an end to famine." It's the latter, of course, even though the first is a more accurate characterization of the situation on the ground.

Does it matter?

With contributions from American donors for famine relief lagging well behind previous disaster appeals, and the UN reporting a significant gap between the amount of aid pledged and the $2.5 billion it says is required to address the crisis, U2's Bono has pulled out all the stops, recently enlisting a Who's Who of celebrity spokespeople for his One Campaign, which bills itself as "the campaign to make poverty history." Mike Huckabee, Michael Bloomberg, Arianna Huffington, K'naan, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Idris Elba, Colin Farrell, Liya Kebede, Annie Lennox, Justin Long, Rob Lowe, Ewan McGregor, Evan Rachel Wood, and Kristin Davis -- all make appearances in the campaign's famine relief video appeal, The F Word - Famine is the Real Obscenity.

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