The Best Way to Help Haiti - A blog by Chad Tragakis

The Best Way to Help Haiti - A blog by Chad Tragakis

Chad Tragakis, Senior Vice President, Hill & Knowlton, Washington D.C, and writer for the Hill & Knowlton Blog, ResponsAbility.


The 3BL Media blog roll is a select list of the most influential, respected, and authoritative voices in corporate social responsibility. Compiled from the 3BL Media staff’s extensive contacts with longtime CSR commentators, these bloggers offer relevant news, opinions, and ideas about all things CSR in one convenient place.     

Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 6:32pm


Our hearts are with Haiti.  The 24-hour news coverage is arresting, but at the same time, it is difficult to watch.  For each glimmer of hope – each miraculous rescue more than a week after the initial earthquake – there is the grim reality of despair, desperation and dire need.
The world is coming together for Haiti, hoping to fill that need.  Individuals, community groups, civic organizations and corporations are displaying levels of interest, compassion and generosity not witnessed since the South Asian Tsunami five years ago.  People are marveling, and rightly so, at the seeming speed and ease with which the Red Cross has received more than $22 million for Haiti relief efforts via text.
That $22 million is indeed amazing, encouraging, and critically important all at once.  One of the most important lessons the world learned from the Tsunami is that cash donations are the best way to help the victims of a disaster, especially in the initial aftermath. Cash is immediate, it is flexible, and it provides for culturally and geographically appropriate support. Most importantly, it allows disaster relief organizations to purchase exactly what is needed, and to procure materials near the affected area, which cuts down on transportation time and cost, supports regional economies, and speeds the rebuilding process.

One of my clients, the Center for International Disaster Information, has been tracking and advocating for responsible and appropriate disaster response for more than 20 years.  Over that time, they have witnessed some incredibly insensitive, culturally inappropriate, inefficient, and even harmful responses.  Simply put, when individuals, groups or companies send stuff that is unneeded, supply chains get clogged, boxes must be unloaded and warehoused eating up precious time, personnel and storage space. Haiti is a powerful case in point for this, as there are extremely limited points of entry for the critical relief supplies being brought in by experienced agencies.

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