Technology for Nonprofit Aid Workers


Getting essential goods and services to refugees or individuals affected by a crisis or natural disaster has always been difficult. Conditions constantly change, it's difficult to assess the actual need, and the safety of aid workers has to be considered. Due to some egregious fraud surrounding aid to the natural disasters in Haiti, Southeast Asia, and New Orleans, donors and supporters of nonprofit organizations that deliver aid have a good reason be wary of promises made. Fortunately, technology is positively changing the way nonprofit aid is delivered, and making the process more transparent. According to Nonprofit Quarterly, here are some of the new technology innovations enabling more secure and efficient aid delivery:

  • Amazon Wish List: Similar to a wedding registry, donors worldwide can purchase essential items for refugees or individuals displaced by a natural disaster, which are then distributed through a vetted aid organization. Rather than giving a sum of money without knowing where it will end up, donors are satisfied to know that they personally purchased a blanket, boots, or toiletries, to an individual or family in need.
  • Flüchtlinge Willkommen (Refugees Welcome): This service, currently available in Germany, Austria, Greece, Portugal, and Spain, matches individuals that have volunteered to temporarily house refugees in need. Calling this service “Airbnb for Refugees” is a oversimplifying the problem but the concept is the same: individuals or families with a spare room(s) in their home can offer it up to refugees, and the service assists with compensation for the space.
  • Refugee Maps: With constantly changing conditions, and refugees ending up in different parts of Europe every day, this website helps to aggregate information about refugee aid groups throughout Europe. You can search by region or country and find fundraisers, donation drop-offs, and advocacy information. The developers of the website recognize that it will continue to grow as more people or groups submit data to be plotted on its maps. The more information Refugee Maps can collect, the more effective tool it will be.
  • Journey of a Refugee: This unique map plots tweets of support for refugees from all over Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa in real-time, and includes links to donation centers. While not actively pushing donations, this is an effective way to gauge public sentiment and harness goodwill toward refugee groups.
  • PEX Card: This prepaid debit card works directly with the nonprofit organizations to quickly provide necessary funds to volunteer aid workers and staff on-the-go. It helps eliminate fraud with relief work and provides vital oversight. Team Rubicon, a US-based NGO, utilizes PEX Card to facilitate emergency response operations to natural disasters in the United States or abroad.

What are we missing? Are there other innovative tech solutions to facilitate nonprofit aid and disaster relief? Email us: [email protected].

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