A letter to funders considering support of Typhoon Haiyan: This is a sprint, a marathon, and a decathlon.

Dear Fellow Funders:

I hope that many of you are considering allocating funds for the devastation wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan. I, like many of you, have been fervently scouring the major news sources and social media to understand the full extent of the devastation – hoping that the numbers of displaced, injured, or dead won’t climb any higher.  In a situation like this, funders need to think like track and field athletes  – training for a sprint, a marathon and a decathlon all at the same time.

The Sprint. Right now there are upwards of 9.5 million people affected by the Typhoon – they are in immediate, and critical, need for food, shelter, clean water. And, they may be separated from loved ones – with need for family reunification services. Philippine local community based organizations, the Government of the Philippines, and international NGOs are working around the clock to meet the urgent needs of the affected community. While at least 22 bilateral agencies (including the United States’ own USAID) are providing dollars and goods, private philanthropy is still much needed. The funder community needs to help support those relief organizations sprinting to respond to these desperate conditions.
The Marathon. We know from past disasters – the South Asian Tsunami, the Haiti Earthquake, and Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy – that recovery efforts take far longer than we can all possibly imagine. Rebuilding homes, community centers, schools and public infrastructure takes time. Returning families to their communities, or relocating them takes time. Rebuilding small businesses, clearing rubble, and getting kids back in school takes time. Healing from the death of a loved one and the utter devastation of losing your community takes time. The private philanthropic community’s resources (human, financial, and technical) will be needed for years to come. Years.
My hope is that the private donor community will commit, in tandem with the Government of the Philippines, and our own government, to rebuilding the Philippines. Private dollars will be needed for education, shelter, water and sanitation needs, livelihood, psychosocial support, and agricultural purposes. I encourage the funder community to start stretching for this long race ahead.
The Decathlon. Every aspect of life in the Typhoon-affected area has been touched or broken. And, so, repairing and rebuilding that life will take many different skill sets. Local Philippine government bodies, the United Nation, bilateral agencies, local community based organizations, international NGOs, the academe, affected community members themselves, and private funders ALL have a role to play in the successful rebuilding following the Typhoon. Just as with a decathlon – winning the rebuilding race means that we need to have an expert javelin thrower, a powerful pole vaulter, and the best in show long jumper. It will take the collective efforts of all of us to help the Philippine people restore their lives.  We have won the decathlon together in the past – it is time to gather together on the field again.
I know how powerful the private philanthropic community can be – transformational and inspirational.  So let’s put on our running shoes and jerseys for the betterment of Haiyan-affected communities.
My very best,
Regine A. Webster
P.S.  Please tell me what you are doing to support Typhoon Haiyan relief and recovery efforts- I’d love to hear from you!

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