Friday, May 23, 2008

Helping China's Earthquake Victims

I got an email yesterday with a bank account number, informing me I could "wire transfer" funds to the account to help the China earthquake victims. The email was from someone I know, but I'm always suspicious of an email that gives instructions on wire transfer of funds, even if the email doesn't begin with, "ATTN: Dearest One of God..."

I wrote to one of my buddies who is an executive with the American Red Cross, and here is his response, with guidance on how to donate.
Like you, I’m always a bit suspicious of anyone who tells me to “wire the funds” As you can see from news reports, the RCSC [Red Cross Society of China] has collected over a ½ billion USD’s thus far and fundraising hasn’t really started yet. American Red Cross had such a huge surge of donations for China that they’re not asking for, or establishing a campaign to raise money.

The complexities of these relief operations are staggering. Global interest peaks for about 3 weeks, and then the disaster is relegated to just another terrible tragedy. The readiness capability of each Red Cross Society often reveals itself when a huge event like this occurs. China is in relatively good shape with a strong Red Cross infrastructure and literally millions of volunteers. They consistently operate within Sphere, IFRC [International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies] and WHO standards. The Burma Red Cross is less fortunate having to operate under military rule and limited access to outside resources.

Personally I would give to the IFRC directly. They can then push the funds to China in a manner that makes sense. One advantage of giving to the American Red Cross is that the donation would be tax deductible. I don’t think the IRS provides this benefit to a donation made directly to China or through the IFRC.

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