Saturday, May 7, 2011

Donating overseas is a vexing issue and today, even more so.

By Phil Hayes-St Clair
Executive Chairman, HSC & Company - Philanthropy and Community Investment Advisors.

I was asked to write this article before the devastating events in Japan took place. In light of the enormity of that disaster my original message hasnʼt changed.

I am naturally intrigued by the ever-changing landscape of international policy and social issues. In my corporate life I keenly observe systems and markets with a view to help steer companies to a position of competitive advantage. As a philanthropy advisor I use the same skills to keep a close eye on the reactions that people have to humanitarian crisis and see, more often than not, a disturbing cycle of habit and history repeating itself.

Advising HSC & Companyʼs clients on overseas donation and social investment have revealed two clear camps. The first is the ʻI get better bang for buck when donating overseas than domesticallyʼ camp. The second is the ʻI donʼt know how much actually ever gets to where I want it to goʼ camp. Is there a middle ground? The answer is YES but what you find there is a myriad of complexity and difficult-to-answer questions that usually encourages people to do one of three things: Go back to the camp they came from; quickly adopt the philosophy of the other camp; or say ʻforget it, too hardʼ and look to engage in domestic social issues.

These are all (semi-) rational behaviours but what about the deep sadness and gut wrenching emotion we all feel when we see images of people who are themselves heartbroken by a large scale and ferociously sudden natural disaster that claims their family, their friends or their livelihood. What then? Well you reach for a mobile phone or laptop and donate, right?


Read the full article here