Donations Rolling In For Earthquake Response

April 28, 2015       Mark Hrywna and Patrick Sullivan      

In what’s likely the largest disaster relief response since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013, charities are scrambling to get basic needs to Nepal as fundraising ramps up.

Mercy Corps estimates that 8 million have been affected by the 7.8-magnitude that struck the Himalayan country on Saturday morning. The Portland, Ore.-based nonprofit had raised $1.4 million in donations as of Monday night, tracking slightly ahead of the 2013 typhoon. GlobalGiving has raised $1.185 million from almost 18,000 donations as of Tuesday morning, almost half way to its revised goal of $2.5 million. Contributions to disaster relief charities surpassed $100 million within two weeks of Typhoon Haiyan and neared the $200-million mark after the first 30 days.

The death toll has risen to more than 5,000 as of Tuesday in what’s considered the worst quake to hit Nepal in 80 years, impacting its heavily populated capital, Kathmandu as well as areas of India, Bangladesh, Tibet and China. Conditions in one of the world’s poorest countries bring unique challenges to aid workers and survivors.

“Nepal is a country about the size of Tennessee and it only has two main roads,” said Wendy Christian, a spokeswoman for Save the Children. “There’s not a lot of access to move supplies from areas outside the impacted areas. We’ve got to get those roads clear and it’s tough to get the heavy equipment that you need in there to do that.”

Save the Children, which has been working in Nepal since 1976, launched a $50-million fundraising campaign for the region. The Fairfield, Conn.-based organization had raised $600,000 through Sunday, which Christian said surpassed the first two days after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Alexandria, Va.-based Global Impact has started the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund to support partner charities on the ground in Nepal, including AmeriCares, Lutheran World Relief, Save the Children and World Vision.

Joe Mettimano, Global Impact’s vice president of marketing and campaign engagement, characterized the fundraising response as “terrific” but said the organization would not have a total until later in the week. “The bulk of the money we raise typically comes from corporations, usually from employee giving and companies [that] will match that. That money is usually a little slow to come in,” he said.

American Red Cross made an initial commitment of $300,000 to relief efforts. The global Red Cross network is in the process of distributing 19,000 emergency kits that include clothing, tarps and personal hygiene items. It already has given out 1,200 tarps, The Nepal Red Cross Society is providing first aid, search and rescue, donated blood and relief to first responders. A spokesperson for the organization said it will not have fundraising numbers until later in the week.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) focuses on mid- to long-term recovery issues after a disaster. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit has set up the Nepal Earthquake Recovery Fund. Though it does not have a specific fundraising goal, the CDP aims to help donors collaborate on their giving to improve effectiveness as well as help with what often gets overlooked in the immediate aftermath, according to Regine Webster, vice president.