We know that the public is generally encouraged at times of high-profile disasters that ‘the best way to help respond to Katrina is to send money.’ This is true in many instances, but it is only true if the money actually helps people for whom it is given.
It is your money, and we want you to understand what we will do with it if you contribute to Direct Relief.
If you designate your contribution for Hurricanes Katrina/Rita, we will use 100 percent of the contribution for expenses directly related to these activities and nothing else. We believe this is a simple concept, but we also think it is important to spell out what exactly it means to us when we receive a donation designated for a specific incident.
Direct Relief never uses a specific tragedy for general fundraising efforts for our organization. We also do not use a specific incident such as the Katrina/Rita emergency to solicit funds for a loosely defined “disaster fund” or a fund “to help these victims and others victims of tragedy.”
This is not because other tragedies deserve less – we have responded to humanitarian crises for 57 years – but because we believe it is wrong to show a picture of current victims in a particular place without committing to help those specific victims with money that is given for their assistance.
We will not use Katrina/Rita funds to pay for any salaries, rent, administrative expenses, or anything else that we had already anticipated in our budget – despite the fact that we are devoting these resources extensively now to the relief effort.
We always have the significant challenge of raising money for these expenses, but we do not believe it is appropriate to cover these pre-existing expenses with money that is clearly intended to help victims of the recent Gulf Coast hurricanes. We don’t consider funds we receive specifically for these incidents “Direct Relief’s money” but rather money people have given to us to do the right thing for victims of these incidents. We believe it is for them and that we are trustees – to both you and them – to make sure it serves them in the most effective way possible.
Here’s what we will spend your money on: We will spend designated donations on new expenses directly related to Katrina/Rita that we have not anticipated in our budget. These expenses will include such things as purchasing medicines that are otherwise not available and packing and shipping costs to health facilities in the region. This is our particular area of expertise and the needs in this area are significant.
If we have available funds, we also will provide cash assistance to front-line health facilities to cover their increased expenses. If what we do ever becomes not what is needed or is otherwise addressed through a better source, we will give the money to a trusted, credible organization in the region that can help address other essential needs for the people.
Direct Relief will absorb all administrative expenses associated with Hurricanes Katrina/Rita contributions, including the processing charge (typically 2-3% range) that we must pay to the credit-card processing company for Katrina/Rita-designated contributions we receive via credit card. This ensures that 100% of your donation is used only for direct expenses related to Hurricane Katrina assistance.
This policy is consistent with our actions following September 11 and the tsunami last December. Those policies are on this website, and you can read about how we spent money in strict accordance with these policies. General undesignated contributions to our organizations are always much needed for us to function. Indeed, because we receive general funds, we have been able to respond fast and extensively to the Katrina emergency.
However, we want any person considering making a contribution specifically for Katrina/Rita to know that we will honor that intent and how we will do so.
Thank you for your generosity.