Ebola-Aid-Workers-300x187Volunteers with the Guinea Red Cross disinfect the Ratoma
hospital in Tahouay, suburb of Conakry | Photo Credit: Caters News

The latest report from the World Health Organization (WHO) puts the Ebola death toll at 2,800 in six months. This total includes 181 of 337 infected health care workers and excludes many more some experts contend have died quietly in rural Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. Ebola is a terrifying disease with a horrifying casualty rate, a terror which has slowly mobilized first the international NGO sector and WHO and most recently the US military in efforts to stop its spread.

Disasters aren’t new. Plagues and epidemics are not a product of the digital age. In the long story of humanity on Earth calamity has marked the beginning, and sadly the end, of many a chapter. What is new is our collective ability to act to combat calamity the world over. In our time, the push of a button can transfer money and support to save lives and assist those coordinating aid efforts across oceans and continents. A US company like Cardinal Health, a FrontStream client, can mobilize 60,000 employees and throw its support and medical expertise behind a cause a world away.

FrontStream’s CSR & NPO Services team has utilized FrontStream technology and staff expertise to vet over 100,000 charities in the last year. As with any disaster, we mobilized these resources to provide our clients with perspective on some organizations most capable of helping to stem the spread of Ebola.

oxfam logoOxfam InternationalOxfam International (EIN 237069110): Oxfam International has an established presence on the ground through the Liberia Wash Consortium. The group has established relationships in the region via 7 years of work increasing access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services in Liberia. It is exactly this sort of expertise which can be helpful in stopping the spread of Ebola and the consortium has suspended other efforts to provide direct assistance to the Liberian government and address the outbreak.

Americares-logoAmericaresAmericares (EIN 061008595): Americares has established numerous notable partnerships, including a partnership with Cardinal Health, a FrontStream client, to coordinate multiple emergency shipments of desperately needed kits and support. The partnership with Cardinal Health, a company which is further innovating by rolling their support into the company’s workplace philanthropy programs, further allows the organization to provide sustained and professional support.

intl-medical-corps-logo International Medical CorpsInternational Medical Corps (EIN 953949646): The International Medical Corps has doctors on the ground running a center at the epicenter of the crisis in Liberia and scaled up treatment activities in Sierra Leone. The organization has also used its perspective to generate public awareness, with doctors, volunteers, and advocates contributing to stories in the Washington Post, New York Times, and making meaningful contributions to discussions on several popular NPO programs like The Takeaway at WNYC. Most importantly, the organization has a history of providing urgent medical care in high risk zones including Syria and Sudan.

samaritans-purse-logoSamaritan’s PurseSamaritan’s Purse (EIN 581437002): Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief charity, has 200 staff providing community-level care on the ground in West Africa. The organization has had a Liberia country office for over a decade and has used its on-the-ground expertise to distribute over 3,000 kits to local communities. Finally, the organization is able to innovate in the context of the disaster through unique and established relationships with local clergy and church leaders that can be especially powerful in engendering local trust and engagement in a region and time in which fear understandably impacts operations.

These organizations were examined against seven distinct criteria.

  1. All were required to be registered in the US or Canada as a charitable entity. This was deemed important due to the centrality of US agencies such as the US military, USAID, and CDC in the latest stages of the coordinated worldwide response as well as the current position of the US as the world’s currency and its strong exchange position. This facilitates the ability of US agencies to leverage received support to fund the response.
  2. As a measure of transparency organizations were required to have publicly available financial statements covering at least the last 2 years.
  3. We examined organizational reputation as reflected in mentions in WHO, Doctors without Borders, notable partnerships, or news reports from prominent publications.
  4. We created a composite score of the organization’s social media presence (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube) as a gauge of its ability to galvanize and multiply support as well as its potential ability to mobilize volunteers or donors and build awareness should the crisis further escalate.
  5. We examined organization’s logistical capabilities and on-the-ground presence in the region. A local presence enhances the effectiveness of support by reducing the involvement of middlemen, no matter how well intentioned.
  6. We examined organizations’ relationships with the principal coordinating bodies (WHO, USAID, Health Care Companies).
  7. Finally we looked at the organization’s experience providing urgent and scaled medical relief globally and its experience in this region of West Africa in particular.

It’s our hope that these options can embolden individual donors and corporations seeking to support the global response and ensure that support is used innovatively and efficiently by those bravely responding to the crisis on the ground.

Author: Brandolon Barnett is an Operations Coordinator at FrontStream, focused on corporate social responsibility and nonprofit services. Brandolon has an MA in International Studies from the University of London SOAS. His work aids clients in corporate responsibility departments understand their giving program metrics and identify nonprofit partners.

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