Why should I donate money to hurricane victims?

Why should I give money to the Red Cross or some other agency to help the people in New Orleans? They can’t eat money.

Sure money can be used to buy food and other stuff that they need, but that would mean food is already available and there is a way to get it to them. All that is keeping it out of the hands of those that need it is that whoever has the food isn’t willing to outright donate it. I don’t think that is the case.

I can see the need for money in the long term, but with empty store shelves and no working infrastructure, what good is money to them right now?

I think it is the case. Surely you can imagine there the existance of merchants across the country who do not feel like bankrupting themselves with donations, but would be more than willing to sell their wares?

BTW, where are the trucks and gas coming from? Who is paying the personnel who take their time to go there?

Geez, what’s keeping you from giving up everything you own and giving it to those less fortunate? Don’t tell me you aren’t willing to outright donate it, I don’t think that’s the case.

There is plenty of food in the United States. It can be delivered to New Orleans, MS and AL. The truck convoy today shows that. The trucks need fuel which cost money. Medicine costs money.

Lionel, sometimes the answer is just as simple as this: because it’s the right thing to do.

The Red Cross has to buy most of the stuff it uses: food, blankets, etc. It needs the money, period. And yes, even one lousy dollar will help.

A guy from the Salvation Army was on the news last night and asked people to donate money instead of goods, because they simply don’t have any place to put goods yet until they could be delivered. Additionally, money you donate can instantly be moved across the country to where it’s needed.

Who said anything about giving everything? I don’t expect merchants to bankrupt themselves, nor would I bankrupt myself by giving everything. But I would give some. And I believe so would most merchants. And many truck drivers would drive it there for free if they thought lives could be saved by doing so. So it’s not lack of money that is preventing that from happening.

That is what I don’t understand. They can’t use the money right now, because if they went out and bought stuff there is no where to put it. So the money is useful in the longer term only. Donations before (to prepare for) the disaster, and after a basic infrastructure has been re-established is a good thing. But I don’t understand the big push for money right now.

It’s much easier to coordinate money than goods, which need to be transported, refrigerated, collected, and organized. Much easier to go buy in bulk with donated money and distribute that way.

The truck drivers may work for free, but the diesel isn’t going to put into their trucks by the Diesel Fuel Fairy. Someone has to pay for it. Somewhere along the line.

No one is expected to be bankrupted by donating to this cause. You just give a few bucks. If you figure that there are around 250 million people in the U.S. and if you figure that even if half of them give $5, you’ve got a healthy amount of cash to work with.

The money right now will be used very, very, very soon. It’s not like the problems along the Gulf Coast are going to go away in a couple of days.

Lionel, you do realize that the survivors are going to need more than surplus boxes of macaroni and cheese don’t you? How about cots, blankets, toiletries, and everything else that you should have thought of before you posted this but somehow didn’t? Are you honestly saying that everyone should refrain from giving or just you? The answer to that question determines how we proceed from here. If it is just you, then you are right, you don’t have to give.

They need money to hire the transport, and then can buy supplies as they are needed once the transport is lined up.

While many people may wish to donate transport and goods, a lot of this is not under the control of individuals but of corporations. A corporation may not be able to donate goods and transport willy-nilly.

I didn’t say everyone should refrain from giving. I donate to the Red Cross. Yearly, as a planned thing. I’m not convinced giving more money right now is the best way to help those people right now. They can’t eat money and it takes time to convert it into the goods they do need.

OK, how about I word it this way. Is there anyone here who works for a company that could provide this stuff? You sell cots, blankets, whatever. (Walmart, Sears, Proctor and Gamble…)

Has the Red Cross contacted your company and asked you to donate some of it for free? If so, did your company say ‘no, you have to pay us for it’. That’s not a rhetorical question. I’m curious if the charities ever just ask for the stuff.

Walmart is really, really good at distribution. They could get a few truckloads of stuff to where it was needed quicker than anyone. A donation of their goods and distribution expertise is better than asking them to donate money. Do they get asked to do that?

Sorry, I misunderstood you a little but not completely. You are right that Walmart and a few other supercompanies are very good at distribution. I haven’t heard about Walmart but I know that Coca-Cola is providing relief. I still think you underestimate how much cold hard cash is needed right now.

  1. It is more fluid than hard goods.

  2. The relief effort is going to be spread out over hundreds of large and small relief sites across the nation. Some of them may only have a family or two. Each family is going to have diffrent needs.

  3. People are going to have individual needs like prescriptions, toiletries, calling cards, and clothes that can’t be covered by bulk dropoffs.

  4. At some point, they are going to give people cold hard cash too. Many of these people have nothing left and people generally can’t live very long without a dollar to their name. At some point, they are going to need to go to a store and by something.

I think your point about donations is too simplistic. With that kind of logic hospitals would never exist.

Look at the money issue this way. Even the corporations that provide supplies have to stay solvent.

Here’s an example: Joe owns a medical supply company and he sells bandages. He has a wharehouse full of bandages that he paid for and pays rent to store. When it comes time for him to ship his bandages he pays drivers to haul the bandages and pays fuel costs for the trucks.

A catastrophe happens and Joe has all the bandages. If Joe simple delivers the bandages without payment he’s bankrupt because he’s already paid a lot of money to have the bandages. He has other options ranging from benevolent to evil.

Joes choices are:

A)Donate all of the bandages and lose the rest of his money in transportation costs
B)Still be charitable and sell the bandages at a (cost only) fair price and remain in business.
C)Be impartial to the whole thing and sell bandages at his normal price and remain in business
D)Raise the price and make more money

Pulled the trigger too soon.

In a situation like this I doubt if Joe is going to give it away (A) and all of the other scenarios involve money. We all hope that Joe chooses (B) but © and (D) still save lives.

That’s why money works at a time like this.

But we have no qualms asking Joe for money do we? I’d rather let Joe contribute in the way he can have the most impact. I don’t want them all, that’s not realistic. Just like I don’t want all his money.

Joe, don’t write me a check for $10,000. Instead, give me ten grand worth of bandages, and your expertise for free. What kind of bandages? How should they be stored and transported? I have no idea. But you do don’t you Joe? You are a freaking expert on bandages. Don’t you think Joe would just love to help out doing what he does best? All we have to do is ask him.

Let him loose man, and those bandages are in New Orleans faster than any charity organization could get them there.

I don’t know what Walmart is doing in this situation, but I have had experience with them in smaller local situations. When help was needed, Walmart stepped up and said they could donate a certain amount of goods (food, water, etc.) and, in addition, would provide the transport for any additional goods the charity could buy at wholesale cost. So the charity needed money, and with that money they got goods at wholesale transported for free due to the largess of Walmart.

If you drop off a crate of water or a box of blankets at your local donation center, that is certainly going to help. But the donation center still has to get that to the site. If your donation is in Shreveport LA, they can just drive it down to the coast, but if you’re in California, New York, or, say, Hawaii, do you really think it’s more efficient for them to take the water that you bought at retail prices and ship it across the country, or take a few dollars you donate, pool that with a bunch of other donations, and buy all the water they can find close to the site where it’s needed?

I think the answer to the OP’s question depends on where you are. If you are in New Orleans or some other hard-hit site along the Gulf Coast, then money does no good. If you’re sitting on a cache of supplies in downtown New Orleans, share them. However, if you’re not already in the problem area where money is useless, then money is the most efficient donation.

And if Joe says he can donate $10K worth of bandages and the expertise needed to select them, then how much better off are the people of New Orleans if the charity can say “great, here’s another $20K to pay for everything else we need”. Now Joe isn’t bankrupt and the people who need them get a lot more than he can afford to give. If the charity has some money on hand.

It might seem like goods are faster than money to get help, but in practice, the opposite tends to be true, at least when it comes to private donations. Donating money lets the agencies purchase exactly what is needed for the people they’re trying to help, and it’s simpler to arranging the shipping if they’re buying it than to move bulk goods from various points around the country that may or may not be what’s most needed.

Lets say they desperately need 500 crates of baby formula and 1000 crates of bottled water. Your business arranges to donate 8000 boxes of mac’n’cheese. Maybe they even pay for the shipping, so that’s taken care of. Sure, it’s probably going to do some NO people some good, but they need that formula and water a whole lot more, and now there are 8000 boxes of less-needed mac’n’cheese sitting there, which they need to allocate resources to distribute.
Walmart may be a great distributor, but they are not a disaster response agency. If the Red Cross goes to them and says “we need 1000 blankets shipped to staging area B”, and Walmart decides to donate instead of sell, that’s awesome. But overall, it’s faster and simpler to just give the agencies money, and let them turn that money into the goods and services that are most needed. Especially when not all over the manufacturers of those most needed goods are going to give them away, or ship them for free.
At least that was how I learned it when I took some credits in Disaster Studies, to become one of those FEMA/Red Cross people (didn’t follow through, but still remember the important stuff)

Your ideas fall short for efficiency and ensuring that the exact needed goods reach the victims. Let’s use your bandage scenerio. You know that you need bandages so you call up your buddy Joe for a donation.

You: “Joe, we need bandages. Can you give us some?”

Joe: “Well, I can give you some. What kind do you need?”

You “You’re the bandage expert Joe”

Joe: “I know bandages but I’m not a psychic doctor. Fine, you can have 200 cartons of leg bandages that haven’t sold in a year”.

You have several problems here:

  1. Why are businesses responsible for the relief effort in the first place? Sure, they should help too but it is unfair to place all the burden on them.

  2. Why are you going to let businesses dictate what supplies you get? Joe just sent you a ton of bandages in a size that only a few people can use. Likewise, people may not think it is so great to eated canned tuna for weeks on end.

  3. The exact quantities of goods needed are hard to determine in advance. Goods may not be put to use. It is better to just buy what you need now and replenish as necessary.

  4. Relief victims have indivudual needs. It could be prescrition medicine or a 44DD bra. Everyone has some unique needs. Only money can meet those needs.

You need to work on your thread titles too. This one doesn’t sound so nice at first glance.