Employees at GlobalGiving, the world's first and largest crowdfunding organization for nonprofits, awakened Monday to a Red Alert in their in-boxes.
An earthquake that hit Afghanistan and Pakistan was expected to have a "high humanitarian impact based on the magnitude and the affected population and their vulnerability."
Within hours, GlobalGiving set up a relief fund on its home page.
The organization has local partners in more than 100 countries to assist in disasters. The first need is to fund victims of the disaster. But Alison Carlman, Senior Manager for Marketing and Communications, says GlobalGiving strives to maintain assistance long-term.
Remote with no communication, winter coming
Other nonprofits, like the Red Cross/Red Crescent and Mercy Corps, reported initial difficulty in receiving information from remote areas to assess needs. Mercy Corps has worked in Pakistan and Afghanistan since the 1980s.
CARE, which also delivers humanitarian relief, expressed concern about those vulnerable, especially with exposure to the elements.
“There has been a noticeable drop in temperature” over the past few days, says CARE’s Afghanistan Director Christina Northey.
Years ago, organizations would take donations of food, clothing and equipment from Americans and ship them overseas. While that spirit of wanting to help to one family or one community is still alive, the cost of shipping isn't worth it.
Organizations can get cash quicker to the region.
"They can work with local vendors who are supplying things like clean water, food, clothing - things they need - to support the local economy but also to make sure that the people in need are getting what they need instead of a million T-shirts from America," Carlman said.
Employees at GlobalGiving at its Washington, D.C., office keep the world's first and largest crowdfunding organization open year round. It operates virtually 24/7. (Photo - C. Presutti/VOA).
In need of visas
Doctors Without Borders initiated a mass-casualty plan almost immediately after the earthquake, with triage and lifesaving care in various regions of Pakistan. The International Medical Corps is using local medical teams to assist.
A spokesman told VOA the Pakistani and Afghani governments a year ago put restrictions on work visas for expatriates. Anyone who works through an NGO needs a separate work visa, which the governments aren’t giving out. IMC hopes the government will ease restrictions in light of the disaster.
Some organizations say earthquake relief donations are lower than usual - they say some regular donors do not trust the political situation on the ground, especially in Afghanistan. Others say they are not sending rescue teams into the region because of the security situation in the region.