Tsunami appeal afterthoughts
Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the tsunami appeal, especially cosponsors. Most of the pledges have already been redeemed, and the remainder are flowing in as people get some free time (I got notification of one more just as I was typing these words). In this post, I want to answer a few questions that were raised in the course of the appeal. In fact, part of the idea was to get people thinking about such questions.
First, why not just send the money in myself, without making a song and dance about it? One reason is that I wanted to try out the cosponsorship idea, and it worked beyond my most optimistic hopes. I’ve always said the comments are the best part of this blog, and now we have a numerical measure. 80 per cent of the money raised by the appeal came from cosponsors, most of whom are part of the regular group of readers and commenters here. I also think the “comment for cash” idea was worthwhile. Apart from a handful of mean-spirited comments (and even some of these were facetiously intended, I’m sure), the great majority of people who took the time to comment also took some time to think about the tsunami, the victims and the efforts to help the survivors. I think this must be a good thing.
Second, why the Red Cross? The main reason was that I’d already given to CARE and Oxfam and I thought World Vision got a pretty good run with the concert, so it was their turn. I also hoped that the Red Cross would be an uncontroversial choice, but inevitably, some issues were raised. I’ll discuss these in a later post, but for the moment I’ll observe that all organisations are imperfect. We can’t I think use that as an excuse to do nothing.
Third, why the tsunami and not the chronic problems elsewhere in the world? This is the big question for me, and I’ll try to explain my reasoning as best I can. I can’t remember a disaster that’s elicited a sustained response on the scale of the tsunami tragedy. Three weeks on and it’s still major news, at least here in Australia. I really think there’s a chance for a permanent change in attitudes here, that might embed aid efforts into our society. Unlike the immediate aftermath, the disaster is no longer at the forefront of our minds, but we’re still doing good things to raise money and feeling good about it. Why shouldn’t we just keep on doing this all year, and next year, and the year after? I think the best way to promote this change is to keep focused on the tsunami relief effort for a while longer, then to encourage people to keep up the effort level (higher than we’ve been used to, but not a huge burden), but with broader goals. So, as soon as I think the time is right, I’ll be running another appeal with a broader mission, probably on health.
Finally, some technicalities. The WordPress blog held up well to the challenge of an unprecedented number of comments, and there was much admiration for the controversial instant preview feature (contibuted IIRC by Rob Corr). Another controversial issue, the Quiggers Beard, continued to divide commenters.
Although I started reasonably early, a lot of people only discovered the appeal late on Sunday, and no doubt some didn’t find it until it was too late. Next time, I’ll give more notice and run for an entire weekend.
If anyone else has any ideas for next time, I’m very keen to read them.