Last Friday, we posted recommendations from Dr. Patrick Rooney on impactful ways to give to Hurricane Harvey victims.
Now, Dr. Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs, and Dr. Amir Pasic, Eugene R. Tempel Dean, focus on the impact that modern technology and social media have on disaster responses, as well as how important it is to continue to give long after the camera’s lenses have turned away.
First, insights from Dr. Osili about technology and the way it’s shaping our view of disasters and ways that we give.
“Social media, technology and innovation are increasingly shaping the way we learn about, identify with and respond to disasters such as this. Through social media, we are able to witness the human face of the disaster unfolding in real time in the photos and videos on our phones and we want to do something right now.
“Disaster giving is typically impulse giving: we see the need and we want to help. Online giving and text-to-give options let donors feel that they are helping immediately. Crowdfunding harnesses the power of social media to let people give quickly and directly, and they offer a way to make a bigger difference by enlisting friends, peers, and complete strangers in the cause. Technology is also playing a bigger role in how nonprofits raise both awareness and funds.”
Dr. Osili and Dr. Pasic comment on the necessity of short-term and long-term giving.
Dr. Osili: “Each disaster is complex and requires its own unique response. The way this disaster is unfolding is different from any in recent experience. After more than five days we are still primarily in basic rescue mode and may be in that mode for several more days. Because the disaster is ongoing and is still unfolding in new ways, it is not clear yet precisely what individuals, families and communities are going to need, or what recovery and rebuilding will look like. Nevertheless, the immediate needs are real and urgent, and donors should consider how they want to support both short-term and long-term needs.
Dr. Pasic: “With major disasters, we generally see a lot of giving during the first six weeks to six months after the disaster, and then donations begin to drop off rather substantially.
“The extent and type of media coverage is an important factor in whether and how much people give. Often it seems that when the television cameras and other media turn their attention elsewhere, donations begin to decline. Holding the public’s attention for the long haul will be a challenge in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, but it will be important to raising the funds necessary to meet long-term needs. Given the scope and duration of the disaster, the human and community needs will persist for years to come.”