Business Strategy

Your best post-disaster gift? It’s probably cash

Another year, another Storm of the Century.

It’s kind of hard to concentrate on all of this accounting nonsense, isn’t it, when thousands of people are dead and hundreds of thousands of others are homeless in the Philippines.

If you’re like lots of folks, you’re wondering how you can help. I mean really help. You know — do some actual good.

According to Robert Ottenhoff, the key is to focus on immediate needs.

There are a lot of folks in the Philippines who don’t have adequate food, water and shelter these days. At the same time, roads are gone, power is out, and communication has been cut off. It’s hard to get the necessities to people when the infrastructure is on life support.

So what’s the priority? It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg question, isn’t it?

Here’s what Ottenhoff believes.

“The issue today is logistics: How can we get emergency food and water and shelter to the people who badly need it?” Ottenhoff, president of the Center for Disaster Philanthrophy, told NPR. “Airports have been shut down. We have a lack of communication. Logistics are necessary before we can get emergency aid to the people who need it.”

So how can we best help in the early days after a huge disaster like this?

One word, says Ottenhoff: Cash.

“I know it’s a frustrating answer,” he said. “What’s amazing is the generosity of the American people and their eagerness to do something. (But) I think it’s important to support those who do emergency relief every day, and that means sending cash most of all.”

So if cash is the answer, who needs it most? Here are some ideas:

Organizations like the Philippines Typhoon Disaster Relief Fund and Doctors Without Borders are in desperate need of donations. So, too, are other organizations like the Philippine Red Cross, UNICEF, World Food Programme, and the International Rescue Committee.

You’ll find details on relief efforts and links here.


Bill Sheridan