Nov 12 2013

Don’t Send Shoes/Clothes/Medicine. Send Money…

I have said it with regards to clothes and the like and if you think I am the only one?

Check out Jessica Alexander’s take on it.


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  1. 1

    Money is better for more than just one reason. Second hand goods are a waste of time because they require processing, even if they are useful. Sending things also wastes time and requires transportation to move it there. OTOH, money can travel electronically, so it gets there instantly and is usable immediately. (Your local foodbank will say the same thing – give money so they can buy cheaply in bulk. One or two tin cans of food aren’t very helpful.)

    Donations of money mean aid agencies can obtain supplies locally instead of transporting them. The Philippines is a producer and exporter of finished goods because of its cheap labour force. Many things that people need (clothing, cooking utensils, food) will already be in the country in factories, and don’t need to be shipped halfway around the world. And even if the Red Cross and others do need to import things, other nearby countries (e.g. Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam) are makers and exporters of the same finished goods. Transporting things from their countries to the Philippines is much quicker, it costs less, and the items are brand new.

    There were endless stories after the December 2004 of “care boxes” filled with religious drivel and useless junk, and the same happened in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. Haitians are ardent catholics, and Indonesians are ardent muslims, and neither wanted to hear about religion at a time when they needed help. The same is true of the Philippines: now is not the time for proselytizing.

  2. 2
    Francisco Bacopa

    Always give money, almost never stuff. Food banks are able to to buy pallet loads of food at 15 cents on the dollar to cover labor costs. The grocery chains write off the loss as charity. Never give food to a food bank. A ten dollar cash donation could buy a carload of food.

    Money can go to fund what is needed RIGHT NOW, whatever it is. Your clothing and shoes won’t pay for the fuel for the crews with chainsaws and backhoes that are clearing a highway so that aid can get to those in need.

    Money can become anything almost instantly. Your old shoes will be stuffed into shipping containers and shipped off to Honduras for reprocessing. The charity you donated them to will get $20 dollars per container load. One cent of actual cash could do many times the work.

  3. 3

    This, exactly.

    I worked for the Australian Red Cross between 2005-2009 and we went through several disaster appeals, from our own devastating fires and floods to various tsunamis and quakes globally.

    Each time an appeal was launched (and usually before) we were deluged not just with financial donations but offers of clothing, toiletries, tents, even fresh fruit & veg and, in a couple of cases during the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, cars and caravans.

    As a rule we said “no goods please” (local appeals occasionally did call for specific items, however) and this surprised, even offended, some people. However I must echo the above reasons for rejecting goods and add some others.

    The main reason we prioritised donations of money: it’s available immediately and can be precisely directed.

    Goods, however:

    - take time to deliver
    - may be superfluous
    - may clutter ports/airports already overloaded with aid workers/military personnel and their equipment
    - may be culturally inappropriate

    Also, any goods that are required can usually be purchased locally – not only are the goods are available immediately but spending aid money locally can assist in lifting an affected area’s economy once the initial emergency has passed and reconstruction begins.

  4. 4

    Ah, now that I’ve read the linked article I find my comment to be pretty much redundant :D

  5. 5
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    If you feel you MUST clear your closets, have a garage sale and SEND THE MONEY!

  6. 6
    Chrome Hearts Jewelry

    You can definitely see your skills within the work you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

  1. 7
    Helping, And Not Helping » The Digital Cuttlefish

    […] hear that what is needed is not shoes, not canned goods, not blankets… but money. Which is convenient, as it is by far the easiest thing to give (if you are giving for the sake of […]

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