mr. zilla goes to town

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Re: Relief

Graham has thrown up some worthy questions about tsunami relief and donation fatigue so I thought I'd respond fully here.

I think he's right to be concerned about compassion/donation fatigue. Particularly amongst corporate donors, many of whom have probably already exceeded their annual budgets for such.

On the other hand, I am sure there are many hundreds of thousands or even millions of people who donated to the cause who have never donated to an international humanitarian cause or organisation before, and the first step is always the toughest one there. Larger scale modern day NGOs have marketing and supporter relationship departments every bit as committed and professional (and more ethical and probably more creative) than Coca-cola. Last time Oxfam GB here contacted its donor base (those giving a fortnightly or monthly direct debit) on an "up-sell" campaign, it increased its annual donations by over 2 million pounds.

In response to Graham's thoughts about tsunami relief being merely fashionable. I'm all in favour of people having the best and most informed intentions behind their donations. However I think the detatchment and abstraction of humanitarian donations from a case-by-case motivational impost into a broader cultural coolism, would itself be fantastic. I mean look at the synergies with the decline in smoking in the last 20 years - there's all this extra discretionary cash floating around in the community, as well as a vacuum with a formerly cool behaviour. Similarly what if buying an annual present for a kid in the third world (say, a donation covering a year's water purification tablets for a child in Sudanese refugee camp) became as natural and expected as buying your own kids' Christmas presents?

I am such the ideas man...

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