In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it’s once again apparent how ill-prepared we can be in the face of nature’s violent (and rapidly changing) powers. Even New York, one of the world’s greatest cities, was brought to its knees in just a matter of hours.
Our increasing lack of ability to predict and prepare for earth’s bizarre weather has also accelerated the speed with which we must react to its devastating effects. Moments can often mean lives in the wake of a natural disaster—that hasn’t changed—but the Internet and its peripheral technologies have made us more agile in our response time.
However, relief efforts often require financial resources that aren’t immediately available, and while traditional philanthropy and fundraising has been vital to long-term rebuilding, they haven’t always been quick enough to provide the necessities—clean water, food, and electricity—when victims need them the most. Local and federal first responders as well as organizations like the Red Cross are quick and superhuman in their relief efforts, but other able-bodied people in and around affected communities are often reduced to the status of victims or bystanders.
Crowdfunding has proven itself capable of propelling people out of bystander-dom and into action-taker mode when every minute counts. Within hours of Sandy, people were on Indiegogo running fast, day-or-two-long campaigns in order to quickly fund grassroots aid for those hit hardest by the storm.
There was NYC Food Truck Association, who ran two lightning campaigns that both raised over $20,000 in the span of a few days. Then there was the team that started raising money to supply solar panels to those who would spend weeks without power. There were campaigns to rebuild in Staten Island and Long Beach — and one to bring Thanksgiving to Coney Island. The popular blog, Humans of New York, teamed up with Tumblr to help raise money and tell the stories of victims and first responders – they raised $318,530 in just 10 days.
Indiegogo also partnered with the American Red Cross to provide free fundraising to any campaign that was raising money for the Red Cross’ Sandy relief efforts. Our partnership with MTV to #restoretheshore brought hundreds of thousands of dollars to go toward rebuilding the Jersey Shore’s iconic boardwalk.
The speed with which Indiegogo can help action in the face of great need was an important factor in our redoubled commitment to non-profit crowdfunding campaigns. We hope our support of 501(c)(3) organizations will encourage more people to do good in their communities and the world.
The role of crowdfunding in these situations is likely to grow – empowering more people to help their communities and those on the other side of the world. When it’s not, it will continue to help entrepreneurs, artists, philanthropists, and passionate people around the globe realize their goals.
Contributed by Andrew Nunnelly, Marketing Associate at Indiegogo
Image by NASA / REUTERS