At the end of July 2010, floods began to take their toll in northwest Pakistan destroying thousands of villages. The flood waters have left nearly two thousand dead with at least 20 million people affected. Food, clean water, medical supplies and shelter are the most pressing needs.
Although the scale of this disaster has eclipsed the disastrous tsunami in South Asia in 2004 (which generated donations of more than $1.5 billion), donations for charities providing aid in Pakistan have been slow to materialize. A dozen of the largest charities engaged in the Pakistan relief efforts say that they’ve only raised about $5 million as of the middle of August. Many have bemoaned the tepid response by private donors (and governments) which has been discussed on our blog and in various news reports.
For those of you who are motivated to give, we offer the following list of highly-rated charities responding to the crisis along with a synopsis of their plans and accomplishments (as of September 2010). Each of these charities has a history of working on massive disasters and/or of working in Pakistan.
- Action Against Hunger has worked in Pakistan during various crisis for the past 30 years. In response to the flood, Action Against Hunger is organizing daily distributions of 32,000 liters of drinking water. It is working to restore 100 water points and damaged irrigations systems while constructing 600 emergency latrines and distributing 7,500 kits containing essential items like buckets, soap, detergent, sanitary pads, and water purification tablets.
- Concern Worldwide has been working in Pakistan since 2001, with a team of over 50 staff and 9 local partners. So far this charity has assisted 17,207 families with food, NFIs, water & medical assistance. Its goal is to assist 500,000 people.
- Doctors Without Borders is staffed by 1,279 Pakistani aid workers and 152 international aid workers. Since the flood it has distributed 24,834 non-food item kits, performed 27,151 medical consultations and distributed 718,000 liters per day of clean water. The charity has 7 diarrhea treatment centers and 12 mobile clinics.
- Medical Teams International has shipped cholera kits that will treat about 1,500 people as well as $8 million worth of medicines and supplies.
- Oxfam America has provided safe evacuation to 100,000 people and clean water to more than 400,000 people. It has distributed hygiene supplies to nearly 200,000 people and provided more than 25,000 people with cash payments in exchange for community-service work. The charity's goal is to reach more than one million people with essential aid.
Of course, these are just a few of the many charities offering aid. For other options for your philanthropic investment, please refer to our extended list of highly-rated charities on the right.
Tips For Funding Relief Efforts in Pakistan
Avoid Newly-Formed Charities and Give To An Established Charity That Has Worked In Pakistan - Establishing a new charity is hard enough, but in a crisis, the odds of succeeding are slim to none. Think of it this way: would you entrust all your savings in a financial firm that just opened, doesn't even have stationery, and whose employees have no experience in investing money? Doubtful. Find a charity with a proven track record of success in providing disaster relief and one that has worked in Pakistan. Start with the list of charities on the right and if a group you are considering supporting isn’t there, then take the time to thoroughly research it before making a gift.
Consider The Nature Of The Charity’s Work – Not every charity is responding in the same way. Some are providing medical assistance, some shelter, some food and water. Others will be more focused on either short term or long term rebuilding efforts. And some are just helping to fundraise for other nonprofits. Think about what it is you want your philanthropic investment to accomplish and then take the time to find the charities doing that work.
Designate Your Investment – Generally, it is best to trust your chosen charity to spend your donation as it sees fit. But with disaster related giving, you should specify that you want your donation only used to respond to this particular crisis.
Do Not Send Supplies – Knowing that thousands of people are desperately in need of basic necessities, it is hard not to want to pack up a box of supplies and send it to Pakistan. But this type of philanthropy is simply not practical or efficient. Even if your box of supplies could get to Pakistan, no one is set up to receive these goods, much less organize and distribute them to the victims. Furthermore, charities are often able to partner with companies to acquire large amounts of in-kind donations such as bottled water and new clothing. Instead of boxing up and sending your old clothing, have a garage sale and turn your used goods into cash and donate that to a worthy charity.
Be Careful Of Email Solicitations
Be Leery Of People That Contact You Online Claiming To Be A Victim – Unless you personally know someone in Pakistan, anyone alleging to be in this position is most likely part of a scam. Obviously, people affected by the floods are in no position to contact you directly for assistance.
Delete Unsolicited Emails With Attachments - Never respond to unsolicited emails. Do not open any attachments to these emails even if they claim to contain pictures from Chile. These attachments are probably viruses.
Be Inspired By Social Media, But Still Do Your Homework – Social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs are delivering heart-wrenching images and stories about Pakistan to our computers and phones. Many of them include pleas to donate. While these tools can be a powerful tool to inspire your desire to help, you should not blindly give via these vehicles. You must take the time to investigate the groups behind such pleas for help to ensure that it comes from a legitimate nonprofit.
Seek Out The Charity’s Authorized Website – Refer to our blog about the Haiti earthquake as to why this is important.
Carefully Consider Making A Text Donation - So long as you do your homework, texting your donation can be a safe way to give. This type of giving is great for those who want to make a small commitment (such as $5 or $10) and may not take the time to sit down hours after seeing an appeal for help and write a check to a charity. It is also a great way to give for those who want to remain anonymous. But texting donations do have a downside. For one, donors may not take the time to research the charity. Also, processing text donations can be expensive for charities and it can take as much as three months for charities to receive your donation. Please visit our blog about the Haiti earthquake and text donations for a longer explanation.
Avoid Telemarketers – As always, hang up the phone do your homework and give directly to a charity.
Do Not Expect Immediate Results, But Do Keep Tabs On What Your Donation Accomplishes- It takes time for charities to mobilize, to assess the problems that need to be addressed and to develop effective solutions. Donors need to be patient so charities will not feel pressured to plunge in and offer ineffective aid, simply to placate impatient donors. That doesn't mean donors shouldn't hold the charities accountable for delivering on their promises! Be sure to follow up with the charity in a few months to find out (a) how your donation was put to use and (b) if the organization needs additional support to complete the recovery effort.