Cover Story: Lives in the Balance
Adds Neuman: “It was particularly clear to me in tsunami, which was probably everybody’s biggest disaster up until what we’re seeing now with Katrina, that at the same time you’re doing the immediate response, for an organization like CARE, which is also focused on long-term development, we made it very clear right from the beginning with our fundraising messaging that this is going to be a long-term problem … which then helps us as we transition back into our ongoing fundraising program.”
After Sept. 11
CARE USA is the founding and largest of 11 CARE chapters around the world, each of which raises money in its own region for ongoing humanitarian-aid programs that span the globe. As such, it’s not directly involved in the Katrina relief effort. It isn’t programmatically operational in afflicted areas and isn’t raising money in connection with Katrina. It has, however, invited organizations that have people and programs “on the ground” along the Gulf to request specific information and expertise if they feel they need it — helping, without forcing itself into the middle of an operation where it doesn’t have a pre-existing presence.
CARE faced a similar scenario in the months following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Only then, tension and anger rivaled shock and sorrow in the American psyche. In addition to funneling massive amounts of money into funds specifically created in response to the attacks, Americans looked inward and focusedon organizations that did work within their own borders.
It was a tense time for organizations such as CARE, much of whose work takes place in the very countries that Americans associate with terrorism. Hicks says the organization saw the number of daily donations, which normally range in the thousands, dwindle to eight or 10.
“It was a real moment of panic for the organization,” he admits, “but our donors all came back to us and, indeed, in fiscal year 2001, we hit our revenue targets. The revenue pain for us was very short-lived, and we were very gratified by the way our donors responded to what was going on.”