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All Hands Volunteers: Sending 'Human Capital' to Disaster-Struck Communities

Disaster response organization All Hands Volunteers has deployed more than 35,000 people to communities around the globe since it was founded more than a decade ago. The nonprofit, which assists with cleanup and longer term recovery efforts after a wide range of natural disasters — recent missions include cyclones in Bangladesh and Fiji, earthquakes in Ecuador and Nepal, and floods in Louisiana and Texas — has donated more than 175,000 days to disaster response projects.

Volunteers handle everything from moving rubble after an earthquake and demolishing unsafe buildings to “mucking and gutting" structures after a flood. Those volunteers donate their time and effort to the projects, but All Hands still needs to provide support to volunteers in the field.

“After a natural disaster, there is often a lack of human capital available to help communities in need. Our volunteers benefit overwhelmed communities by bringing in a whole new set of hands, energy and hope. We help bring people one step closer to getting back to normal," says Erik Dyson, executive director and CEO of All Hands Volunteers.

Spending Flexibility in the Field


Whether it's gas, lodging, food or even tools and materials, volunteers rely on PEX Visa® Prepaid Cards to buy what they need to keep relief projects in the U.S. (and some international locations) running smoothly. For projects in communities that lack adequate financial infrastructure, volunteers typically use cash.

“We have been using PEX for about two years," Dyson says. “We really like the flexibility of the cards. We work with many different volunteers, so it's very convenient to have generic cards to hand out when needed. We also like that we can fund the cards and monitor spending from a central location."

The latter capability is especially important for All Hands because the organization never knows where it will be called next, how much help will be needed or for how long. “We launch a program and then figure out the money, not the other way around," Dyson says. "It's not ideal, but it's how we operate. We always have to be very careful about how we manage our funds."

Simplifying the Expense Reporting Process


Back office technologies, including PEX, also help the nonprofit's back office operate more efficiently by simplifying the expense reporting process.

“Since we integrated the PEX expense management solution with our Expensify expense reporting system, it has made things so much easier for our finance team," he says. “The automation helps us to ensure costs are appropriately captured and tracked, and to avoid errors in our financial reporting."

That operational efficiency is important for an organization that's mission is to respond, at a moment's notice, to disasters around the world.

To donate to All Hands Volunteers, visit the nonprofit's website.

Jane Irene Kelly, who has two decades of professional writing, editing and reporting experience, writes about business and technology. Jane is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and resides in Pennsylvania.

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