REPORT: A CRITICAL LOOK AT DONATION TRANSPARENCY & EFFECTIVENESS, AFTER THE NEPAL EARTHQUAKE

REPORT: A CRITICAL LOOK AT DONATION TRANSPARENCY & EFFECTIVENESS,

AFTER THE NEPAL EARTHQUAKE

SOME OF THE LARGEST FUNDRAISERS REFUSED TO ANSWER QUESTIONS, OTHERS TELL ALL

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 16, 2015 CONTACT: Ben Smilowitz / ben@disasteraccountability.org / (202) 556-3023   ROCKVILLE, MD — Disaster Accountability Project (DAP), an independent nonprofit, launched its latest report, The First Month: Examining the Humanitarian Relief Response to the 2015 Nepal Earthquakes The report assessed post-disaster fundraising and surveyed 100 organizations soliciting donations for and/or responding to Nepal’s deadly April and May 2015 earthquakes. Key findings include the following:
  1. There is an overall lack of consistency in fundraising solicitations by the organizations involved in the Nepal Relief effort.
  2. Many organizations are not clear about their activities in Nepal in their fundraising and solicitations.
  3. Many organizations may repurpose donations intended for Nepal to other disasters and other locations.
  4. Many “Donate to Nepal Relief” online appeals led to general fundraising pages and others even led to solicitations for other disasters such as Oklahoma tornadoes and Typhoon Haiyan.
  5. Some organizations are earmarking donations received for Nepal Earthquake Relief, others are not.
“We want to make sure donations intended for Nepal earthquake relief actually reach Nepal and it is nearly impossible to identify how much was truly raised. Some organizations won’t say and others are blatantly reporting that they won’t spend all the donations intended for Nepal in Nepal.” said Ben Smilowitz, Executive Director, Disaster Accountability Project. “Some groups offered extremely detailed information while others seem to think they can raise hundreds of millions of dollars and avoid basic questions. Donors should rethink support for organizations that prioritize their own fundraising over transparency,” said Smilowitz. 52 of the 100 organizations surveyed reported:
  • 29 organizations (or more than half of the respondents) reported having fewer than 10 staff in Nepal or refused to answer the question about their number of staff in the country.  (see table 1.5)
  • 13 organizations reported that they plan to re-grant 50% or more of the amounts they raise. (see table 1.6)
  • Of the 33 organizations that reported having any staff on the ground in Nepal, 6 organizations reported having no Nepali-national staff and others did not respond to the question. (see table 1.5)
DAP reviewed 100 organizations’ websites to review their own stated earmarking and fundraising policies. Here’s what we found:
  • At least 10 organizations specified that, in the event they raise more than they can reasonably spend in Nepal, they would re-appropriate those donations for other purposes. (see table 1.1)
  • Nearly one quarter (23) of the organizations reviewed had donate buttons that were specific to Nepal that led to fundraising pages that were not Nepal specific.
  • Most organizations either mentioned some type of earmark for Nepal Relief or were silent on the issue.
Survey data was collected in the first month after the first earthquake, between May 11-22, 2015, and organizations’ donation pages were reviewed by DAP within one month of the April 25, 2015 earthquake. Since 2007, the nonprofit Disaster Accountability Project saves lives and reduces suffering after disasters by maximizing the impact of preparedness, response and relief through citizen oversight and engagement, policy research and advocacy, and public education. Connect with the Disaster Accountability Project at http://www.disasteraccountability.org.

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