HelpAge had already been in Haiti for eight or nine years, Whitehead said, which allowed AARP and HelpAge to mobilize quickly. Within 48 hours after the earthquake hit, the electronic campaign went out.
“I thanked the Lord we had an agreement in place,” Whitehead said. “The CEO walked in and asked what we were doing about Haiti. I had an answer and told him what we needed, and we were off.”
AARP provided half a million dollars and on the third day got a matching support contribution, and generated $1.5 million overall. One of the things AARP stressed to its supports is that even five ears after Katrina, the effects are still felt; the same will happen with Haiti — AARP and HelpAge are in it for the long haul.
“We now recognize that we’ll be in this business for a while. We created a general disaster-relief fund. We aren’t a disaster-relief organization, per se, but our members expected us to respond, so we did,” Whitehead said.
Catholic Relief Services
As a traditional disaster-relief organization, CRS was experienced and ready to respond to the Haiti earthquake. It also got a bit lucky. When news broke of the quake, the staff was having a meeting. In that meeting, there just so happened to be the West African correspondent, who speaks French. "So within 10 minutes of the news breaking, he was able to talk to our regional correspondent and immediately work to take action," Melia said.
He added that “donors didn’t wait around for us; they came to us.” CRS raised millions of dollars and was able to provide food, water, sanitation, shelter and medical care to hundreds of thousands of Haitians. But it also raised questions such as, “How much restricted funds are too much?” CRS wanted to raise money and provide aid, but it also wanted to make sure a plan was in place for how all those funds would be used — immediately and for the long term.