2017 has seen some of the world’s most devastating natural disasters. Disasters that have decimated several nations, disasters that have necessitated an urgent need for philanthropists and donors to step up immediately to provide life saving help to these areas and communities.
While the list of significant annual donors, goes up every year, these are for the most part, planned donations, decided on months in advance and structured very carefully by finance and management teams. While philanthropy is much needed, it is also a big and sometimes complex business.
What Happens When Donations Are Needed Right Now?
We know who is on the list of the biggest donors in the world, but it is often a surprise at the numbers of large donations that appear from the most unlikely sources after a natural disaster has occurred.
Hurricane Harvey – Houston Under Water
In the aftermath of one of the most devastating storms to make landfall in the USA, Hurricane Harvey wrought havoc across the Texas coastline, bringing the city of Houston to its knees. While donations poured in from around the world, there were a number of significant philanthropic donations that may not have made the headlines, made all the difference. With cleanup costs alone estimated at over $40 billion, the need is very real and very urgent.
Kieu Hoang – $5 Million to Hurricane Harvey Relief
Growing up impoverished in Vietnam and now a billionaire resident of California, Kieu Hoang immediately stepped up to become one of the largest single donors to the relief efforts in Texas. His donation was targeted to help the most vulnerable members of society, illegal immigrants, many of whom he said were too scared to find city shelters for fear of being deported. Hoang also flew to Houston and spent time in the worst hit areas of the city.
Michael Dell – $36 Million – Michael and Susan Dell Foundation
With a target of $100 million via his foundation toward relief efforts, Michael Dell started off with a personal donation of $36 million to a specific fund ‘Rescue Texas’. The billionaire tech guru is ensuring that donations go directly to relief organizations on the ground and for ongoing efforts to rebuild the worst hit areas.
Corporate Donations to Hurricane Harvey
Corporate donors also came in strong in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey with PepsiCo leading the way with a $1 million donation to the American Red Cross. Walmart also donated $1 million as did Amazon. The Home Depot also donated $1 million to the Red Cross for immediate need but added a donation of products to its Texas stores to help with the rebuilding and repairs.
Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria– Caribbean Nightmare
One of the worst hurricanes ever observed in the Atlantic, Hurricane Irma laid waste to several islands in the Caribbean before wreaking its devastation on the parts of Florida. Relief efforts were hampered by the ability of worker to access the areas affected. On the island of Barbuda, 95% of all structures were destroyed. Hurricane Maria soon followed with a direct hit to Puerto Rico, still reeling after Irma’s devastation. Some of the biggest donations to relief efforts in this region include ones from corporations like Starbucks, Lowe’s and Walmart with a $10 million donation to hurricane relief in 2017.
Disney announced a $2,5 million donation to Irma recovery programs. However, with $105 million donated over 2017 specifically to hurricane affected areas, only $17 million went to relief efforts after Irma and Maria. Donor fatigue? Only time will tell.
Individual donations to help with rebuilding have been adding up, but the largest donors to relief efforts in Puerto Rico and other nations in the Caribbean have been Richard Branson of Virgin with donations to the Red Cross, and country star Travis Tritt with an undisclosed donation for Hurricane Irma relief work. Sports teams, Miami Dolphins and Florida Panthers each donated $1 million to Irma charities.
Mexico’s Deadly Earthquake
Mexico’s Richest Man – Carlos Slim Steps Up
After the devastating earthquake that hit Mexico in September 2017, Mexico’s richest man, Carlos Slim donated $110 million to relief efforts. Nearly 210,000 individual donors also provided funds to the effort bringing the total to $130 million. Slim, worth nearly $62 billion, said the funds were earmarked for rebuilding hospitals, schools and housing.
Mark Zuckerberg pledged $1 million to the Mexican Red Cross to help with immediate rescue and rebuilding programs. Apple donated $1 million to the cause, and actress Salma Hayek donated $100,000 to UNICEF to help with relief.
From the monsoon flooding in Bangladesh, to landslides in Columbia. From terrible flooding in Sierra Leone to storm ravaged islands in the Atlantic – help is needed everywhere, and generous philanthropists are making sure that donations and fund raising for natural disasters remains high.