Cover Story: Lives in the Balance
“The news about Afghanistan and the related news about Iraq has raised the whole profile of that part of the world that most Americans had not been thinking about at all, and that profile has helped to make the work [of CARE] relevant, very real,” Neuman explains. “In a very different way, I would say that as horrifying as the Katrina tragedy is here on our own soil, I think that some of the terrible displacement of people who are now refugees and the public health issues that are being talked about right in our own backyard are making Americans very much aware of the terrible tragedies natural disasters can bring.
“We’re not working in that domain, but I do think that over the long term it’s going to help people understand the same kinds of disasters that occur elsewhere.”
All of these messages were perfectly suited to helping underscore the importance of CARE’s work, and the organization was quick to incorporate them into its fundraising campaigns.
Post-tsunami, Neuman says, CARE also expanded its corporate relationships, taking advantage of corporate America’s proclivity to pitch in after major disasters.
“From a marketing perspective, it had a very positive outcome,” she says. “From a fundraising perspective, an emergency can push you in new directions and new ways. For all of the all-hands-on-deck mentality, we got to be proactive in some quite innovative ways.”
The rest of the program
But CARE isn’t just about crisis-response fundraising. The same sensitivity to the needs and desires of the donating public that kept it in good stead following those major disasters is now helping CARE take a more holistic approach to development — a subtle, paradigmatic shift it hopes will foster better, longer-lasting relationships.
On the individual-donor level, CARE is transitioning from the one-size-fits-all approach that quickly is falling out of favor across the fundraising sector and empowering donors to set the parameters of their relationship with CARE.