Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Too much but not enough- Closing down the Haiti Relief Run Fundraiser

This has been a difficult week of fundraising but from an unexpected perspective. Prior to launching the fundraiser, on Friday, January 15, we had a quick phone call with PIH wherein they expressed interest in our support and proposed fundraiser. In the subsequent week however, as PIH's public profile increased, they became less responsive. We were finally able to follow-up with them at which point they indicated that they were now focusing their efforts on larger donations and could no longer process a donation of our proposed magnitude (goal: 10,000€).

We were surprised to hear this but also appreciated their candid response regarding an internal incapacity to deal with the surge in donations. Herein the dilemma-- we all know that the aid bottleneck will eventually dry up (indeed it has already begun), but we no longer feel confident that this NGO-- which came highly recommended from people in the field-- is best suited to handle further donations. We can get into a long discussion at this point about the efficacy of aid and NGOs, something we have been discussing ad nauseum at home but that still leaves the question of how best to support a disaster relief effort from afar.

As regards our original goal to purchase heavily discounted medical equipment from Balton, that plan had to be dispensed with due to objections raised by PayPal and the subsequent disinterest of PIH. As we (Borut & Paola) are not a registered 501(c)(3) charity, PayPal considered our plea for donations suspicious and would not waive its commission fee on the donated funds. It's been disheartening to see the default skepticism with which goodwill is received, but that is modern reality.

We have refunded all donations received via PayPal as our fundraiser is effectively dead. We are still running the Barcelona Half-Marathon and are still keenly interested to assist in the disaster relief effort. However, in light of the set-backs encountered, we thought it best to allow you to individually make the decision about how best your funds could be used.

We offer you our sincere apologies for this mess. It has been something truly unexpected and eye-opening, and only reaffirms a long-known truth that the best manner to help those less fortunate than us is not so easy to decipher.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Solar power in Haiti relief effort

Amidst the rubble of earthquake in Haiti and all the efforts to mobilize funding to help with the relief effort, I just wanted to pass along two examples that have come across my desk of how solar power is being used to bring both clean water and clean light to bear on the cleanup: More...

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