Private Humanitarian Aid Impressive

I’m very impressed and humbled by the amount of private aid being donated to tsunami victims. In Britain, according to an online BBC report posted at 4 AM British time December 31, individual Britons already have pledged a whopping 25 million pounds (equivalent to approximately 48 million U.S. dollars). This is equal to an average of 80 cents per every British man, woman and child, a rather astonishing statistic. The UK Independent says private donations in Britain were being made at the rate of 1,000 per minute or 250 pounds (481 U.S. dollars) per second.

In Italy, mobile phone users alone reportedly donated the equivalent of nearly 15 million U.S. dollars. That’s 27 cents per Italian on cell phone-based donations alone.

In the Netherlands, a similar cell phone campaign has brought in private gifts the equivalent of nearly 13 million U.S. dollars, equal to 83 cents for every Dutch man, woman and child.

I don’t have a figure for total private gifts by Americans, but in the U.S., the American Red Cross alone reported receiving $27.9 million in donations as of noon on December 30, so the total being donated by individual Americans must be impressive indeed.

Private firms also are making significant contributions: Pfizer Inc is donating $10 million in cash and $25 million in medical supplies; Johnson & Johnson $2 million plus supplies, and J.P. Morgan Chase, $3 million. In addition, Abbott Laboratories is donating $2 million in medical supplies, Citigroup $3 million, ExxonMobil $5 million, Cisco $2.5 million, Wal-Mart $2.5 million, Altria $1 million or more.

Abroad, a Reuters report says, the British telecom firm Vodafone has pledged nearly $2 million, the Dutch financial services group ING $1 million and the German utility firm E.ON donated $1.4 million.

David and I made a donation tonight, after we reviewed the websites and financial forms of the following charities: CARE, the Salvation Army, World Vision and Christian Children’s Fund. All have impressive records and, to my eye, solid financial reports. (As do many, many charities I did not mention here.)

Much of the news reports about the level of humanitarian aid being donated to tsunami victims has focused on government aid, but there is a bigger story to tell.

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