30 August 2005

Disaster. I hate when that happens.

Terrorist attacks. Tsunamis. Hurricanes.

These all suck, and the damage to people, places, and things is tragic.

It's great that so many nations, individuals, and groups mobilize to help.

Well, I can't argue with any of that.

At the same time, I can't help feeling a little annoyed by all this high-profile awfulizing. It's the long term problems, not the photogenic disasters, that worry me.

Which will kill more people (or ruin more lives) this year...environmental degradation, or hurricanes?...hunger, or tsunamis?...terrorist attacks, or AIDS?

How many nonprofit organizations that fight long term problems will lose funding this year, because donors feel that it's more emotionally satisfying to give money for disaster relief?


autumn said...

Thank you for posting this. It needs to be said.
I read in a really comprehensive post about Katrina on the Tattered Coat that one of the main problems in New Orleans is poverty & the fact that thousands of people couldn't evacuate the city because they didn't have cars or resources or any place else to go. Those problems -- and the issues that you mention -- kill people slowly, everyday. It's not to make less of this tragedy... but just... where is the outpouring of support for all of the every day tragedies?

Alan said...

How do you make poverty sexy? A hungry kid is never as much fun to watch as a flood.

I think there are some groups out there that have been able to keep donors' focus after whatever 'event' happens and educate them into a sustained giving pattern. Why was the catastrophe so bad in area X? Environmental degradation, poverty, etc.

Uneasy Rhetoric said...

Yes, it needed to be said, but the sector will survive. People give for short-term reasons. After all, how many nonprofits prey on the "season of giving" BS by doing a holiday appeal? (I am oh so guilty.) Why is it easy to find soup kitchen volunteers in December and impossible in February?