Giving Compass’ Take:
• The nonprofit Disaster Relief, which helps communities affected by natural disasters recover, shares insights on the types of financial assistance people need after a crisis.
• Donors may be inclined to donate goods, but organizations can often put cash to use in more efficient ways.
The nonprofit Direct Relief has traditionally been known for distributing things like medicines, vaccines, and equipment to areas hard hit by natural disasters or severe poverty. But in recent years it’s had to grow in new ways to keep pace with both the increased rate and severity of both natural disasters and inadequate access to decent healthcare among low-income and uninsured people.
Last year, Direct Relief provided about $1.2 billion worth of wholesale materials to health centers and clinics alongside $23.5 million in cash to support those group’s own needs, such as staffing up in times of crisis, or, in the case of Puerto Rico, helping many facilities convert to a solar and battery backup microgrid, so they wouldn’t be knocked offline in the next major storm.
“In all respects we ended the year bigger than it began,” says Thomas Tighe, CEO of Direct Relief. “That’s in large part to keep up with what we see as the clear trend of more frequent, larger-scale, and more intense natural disasters that put a lot of people into harm’s way, and the need to maintain support to areas of chronic need [with] deeply entrenched poverty.”
“There’s this ongoing debate in the United States at least about how much we want the government to do, and how much we’re willing to pay in taxes to have it do it,” he says. “We’ve created a clearinghouse to gather and efficiently allocate medical material. We’re looking at becoming a clearinghouse to gather funds to provide financial assistance for places that can put it to very good immediate use in communities that need it.”
Read the full article about disaster relief by Ben Paynter at Fast Company
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