Who Do You Want to Empower?

MADRERecently I received a rather provocative email from MADRE, one of the organizations we support that is providing earthquake relief in Haiti. Under the subject line, Aid is Power. Who Do You Want To Empower?, MADRE's Policy and Communications Director, Yifat Susskind, made the case that which relief organization you give to matters. She argues that while big, well-known relief operations play a critical role with their ability to swoop into a crisis and deliver services on demand, they may leave local people "no more knowledgeable, self-reliant or resilient than they were before." She adds that it is important to "help save lives in a way that builds community capacity to respond to the next disaster and ultimately, move toward real development." Susskind suggests that donors consider a number of factors in choosing an organization to support. Questions to ask include:
  • Does the group reinforce the activities of existing community organizations?
  • Does it recognize the role that women play during disasters and supply them with resources they need as primary care givers?
  • What teachings will they bring that they can leave behind?
  • Is this an organization you want to help strengthen? Aid is power.
She concludes, "Support organizations that you want to see strengthened. When you donate, you're boosting the capacity of the organization you've given to, even if that's not your motivation for giving. Remember, aid is power. So the next time you give, ask yourself: who do you want to empower?"