Advisers’ Choice Series: What If …
● a sudden flood
● a fire or earthquake
● a terrorist attack
● a plane or train crash
(Note: London already had excellent plans to deal with the medical victims of an event. But there had been no plan to help raise money for the victims, nor to determine how to distribute any money raised quickly and efficiently.)
We also looked at the difference between something that resulted in a small number of people being harmed — say, a school bus full of children — and something that resulted in many people being harmed, like the crowd at a soccer game. We then assessed the implications of these scenarios in terms of fundraising and fund distribution.
A starting point was to work alongside the Red Cross internationally to study the fundraising work that had been done during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the 2002 bombings in Bali, as well as other disasters. Sadly, as we now know, there had been little advance planning for those "improbable" situations.
From this data, we created, with the Red Cross, a number of scenarios that we could use to plan. Some of these were deliberately extreme, and they ran the gamut from 20,000 people killed in a bomb blast at a soccer game to 10 members of the U.K. cabinet being injured after a flood on the Thames. We were looking at the implications for the amounts of money that might be raised and how that money should and would be distributed. (One important learning from Sept. 11, for example, was that giving the money away in a way that was seen as equitable and proper was much more difficult than raising it.)
Sadly, our work was put into practice all too soon when bombers struck literally weeks after we had started it. Suddenly, something that had seemed like an interesting project turned into a very real, practical challenge. The scenarios work, and the planning associated with it, proved invaluable as a massive fundraising and then funds- distribution campaign were set up.
Related story: Scenarios Planning — An Ancient Art