From California To Yemen, Facebook’s Crisis Donate Button Is Fueling Local Solutions

A new GlobalGiving + Facebook partnership strengthened local solutions to hundreds of devastating disasters in 2018. Our Crisis Response Specialist outlines the impact, from the heroic rescue of animals in California to the reduction of cholera in Yemen.


I’ve been working in humanitarian response for more than 10 years, and when I scan the horizon, I see hope.

Why, you might ask, when around the world, disasters and crises are increasing in scale, scope, and frequency?

Last year, I accepted a position as GlobalGiving’s Crisis Response Specialist. Part of my role involves spearheading a new partnership between GlobalGiving and Facebook. Facebook’s crisis pages now feature a crisis donate button that enables Facebook users to donate funds to support disaster recovery efforts around the world. GlobalGiving directs these funds to verified, primarily local nonprofit organizations in impacted areas that are responding to emergencies and supporting affected communities.

In 2018, thanks to the crisis donate button, Facebook users were able to power urgent relief and recovery responses to more than 270 disasters around the globe, including Hurricane Michael in the Carolinas, the Fuego volcano eruption in Guatemala, and the tsunami in Indonesia. The crisis donate button raised more than $1.8 million, which GlobalGiving in turn delivered to more than 200 vetted nonprofit organizations in 70 countries.

Here’s what makes me especially proud: local organizations, powered by staff who live and work in the affected areas, received 85% of crisis donate button donations.

In the sphere of humanitarian aid, this is a remarkable achievement. Local nonprofits received less than 3% of overall humanitarian funding in 2017. To meet the challenges of a changing climate, we must reverse this trend, a mission at the heart of the Disaster Response Team at GlobalGiving.

Local organizations understand the needs in their communities better than anyone else, and in the aftermath of a disaster, they should never be overlooked and underfunded.

Ever since the launch of the crisis donate button, nearly every day, I receive messages of surprise and gratitude because local leaders didn’t think anyone knew about the crisis in their area.

Innovative initiatives like the crisis donate button that concentrate on local responders and localized solutions to improve conditions for disaster-impacted communities do make a difference.

When wildfires engulfed Southern California in late 2017, right after the debut of the crisis donate button, Ralph at the Humane Society of Ventura County used the funds they received to purchase a horse trailer. A year later, Ventura County was once again enveloped in flames.

“We rescued over 70 horses, cows, goats, and pigs using the new horse trailer that GlobalGiving kindly funded,” Ralph reported. “We were able to bring these animals, some of them severely injured from the fire, to our Ojai facility. These animals will stay here for as long as necessary until they can be safely reunited with their owners. We are forever grateful!”

And that’s not all. From Lynn, Massachusetts, to Weatherford, Texas, and Anchorage, Alaska, many people across the United States found themselves affected by fires, floods, storms, and earthquakes of historic magnitude in 2018. Every donation made through the button, whether $10 or $1,000, helped someone in need. In many cases, donations were delivered to local food banks like the Greater Boston Food Bank, which help families like Irma and Roberto’s. They live paycheck to paycheck and sometimes struggle to put food on the table for their three small children.

In the aftermath of a disaster, low-income communities often bear the brunt of the damage and struggle to recover.

In response, local organizations like the Greater Boston Food Bank often double or even triple their operations for families in need.

Much further away in an often forgotten crisis, Farah and Abdulrahaman at Small and Micro Enterprise Promotion Services (SMEPS) are working to reduce the spread of cholera in Yemen, which is suspected to have already sickened half a million people. Crisis donate funds supported Yemenis who are suffering through deplorable and heartbreaking humanitarian conditions.

The ever-present threat of disasters and conflict is daunting. They can strike at any time, anywhere. But I have seen the generosity of people all over the globe—and the ingenuity, determination, and resilience of local heroes—overpower the biggest threats. As long as tools like the crisis donate button continue to be geared toward meeting their needs, I am hopeful we can rise to meet the challenges of the present and the future.

Learn more about how GlobalGiving powers community-led disaster relief, recovery, and resilience.


Featured Photo: #TheyCanSurvive#Yemen by SMEPS

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