When Disaster Strikes


Tamar Snyder’s article (“Long-Term Support Versus Putting Out Fires,” Dec. 17) poses the question of whether donors should “react to disastrous news by immediately opening up their checkbooks” or wait until long-term plans are in place. While it is true that donors should seek out organizations that make long-term planning a priority in their disaster response programs, this does not mean that donors should wait weeks or months to give.

The most effective way to ensure that your dollars will have an impact is to support organizations that already have a presence in the country where a disaster strikes. These organizations, many of which operate through a network of existing partners, are positioned to put money to good use almost immediately and can simultaneously work with their local partners to plan and budget for the long-term.

Oftentimes, certain needs fall through the cracks in the chaos following emergencies. Donor-supported organizations with partners already in place can quickly identify these gaps and become critical players in filling them. For instance, in the hours following the earthquake in Haiti, a partner with whom we had been working for more than 10 years told us there was a shortage in feminine hygiene products and diapers. Forty-eight hours later another partner, based in the Dominican Republic, was loading several trucks full of these very supplies, which were soon brought to Port-au-Prince. Without the outpouring of support the American Jewish World Service received in those critical hours after the earthquake, this would not have been possible.


American Jewish World Service