[twitter]In just 8 days, the Red Cross has sucked up more than $13M in charitable donations from the Calgary economy. You can argue the effectiveness of donating to different organizations (and I have) but you can’t ignore the impact those sort of dollars will have on local charities.
There’s a reason the Red Cross is able to milk that kind of money from the marketplace. It’s a brand we are well aware of. We supported them after floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, and nuclear meltdowns around the world. It’s an umbrella brand that when you don’t know where to donate, you know you can donate to them. So the money has flooded in at a rate of more than $1.5M a day.The other reason the fundraising has been so quick and painless for them is that this crisis taps into the zeitgeist of the city. It has been the all-consuming topic of conversation across town. It’s all anyone cares about, it’s all anyone is talking about, it’s all anyone is doing. My web properties have seen engagement soar by as much as 5000% because the focus switched to information publishing about the Calgary flood. People craved the information, and they clicked on stories informing them.
Businesses shut down for a week and we all didn’t take a vacation, we went to work cleaning up the streets of our city and helping our neighbor. The Red Cross was able to fundraise so quickly because of all of these things. Until a charitable cause directly affects us, we often don’t really notice it.
This week, #yycflood affected us all, and everyone pitched in. So what happens next week, next month, next year?
The city will soon have ‘charity fatigue.’ A charitable vacuum will be left behind. Just as with a hit song on the radio, one day you absolutely love it, the next day you are over it. After such a surge of support, many people will quickly be tapped out. They will have taken some of their disposable money and donated it to flood relief because they were so moved by the community spirit. Perhaps they themselves are now rebuilding, and while the government will pitch in, it’s a drain. The charity economy has seen $13M in donations go to one organization in eight days.
This weekend, my community association will hold our annual Stampede Breakfast. We are fundraising for Alberta’s Children’s Hospital. It wasn’t affected by the floods. There was no damage to the building, there were no terrible injuries to children from the floods that saw them seek treatment. We support Alberta’s Children’s Hospital each year because it’s a charity the West Springs Cougar Ridge Community Association believes in.
Next weekend, I have partnered with ING Direct to hold a Stampede BBQ to raise money for Team Diabetes. I haven’t heard of any harrowing stories about diabetics coming out of the flood, although I’m sure some displaced people had insulin, diet, and stress issues to deal with. I will be fundraising for Team Diabetes, because it’s a cause I believe in. I have raised more than $30 000 for the cause, and will continue to champion the organization as a way to stay healthy, raise awareness, and raise money for diabetes research.
In the wake of #yycflood, a charitable vacuum will happen. A donation to Alberta’s Children’s Hospital or Team Diabetes may not capture the headlines and attention that a Flood Relief event would, but that doesn’t diminish the need these organizations have.
Yes, Calgary needs to rebuild, and if you are so moved to donate I would ask that you donate to The Calgary Foundation. They have experience in our city, and issue grants to local charities that will help the city rebuild. I’d also like you to consider continuing to give long after the city has been rebuilt. This disaster has rekindled our sense of community, giving, and philanthropy.
Please don’t let their be a charitable vacuum in the wake of this event. Let’s continue the flood of kindness by continuing to support a variety of charities in the city, regardless of personal connection to them. Many of us didn’t experience the flooding first hand, but we saw the hurt our neighbours felt and so we helped them. Many of our neighbours are hurting every single day, support the charities that make our city, our province, our country, and our world better.