Why should you donate cash instead of goods?
Because cash donations are quick, efficient and adaptable.
Cash donations are the fastest, most efficient way to get help to people living in a disaster zone. They allow relief agencies to purchase quickly supplies based on the specific needs of the affected population.
Cash donations allow relief agencies to purchase goods and services in the affected country or neighbouring areas. Your financial contribution in other words, is helping to
1. get aid to affected populations as quickly as possible, and
2. regenerate the local economy, which may have been seriously affected by the disaster.
In most cases, it is more cost-effective to purchase goods locally than to airlift supplies from far away, as fuel and aircraft costs can be very high. In addition local goods can be purchased in much less time than it takes to organize the logistics of an airlift from a distant country.
Culturally familiar goods can respond to humanitarian needs, as well as provide a small sense of comfort or normalcy to traumatized and displaced populations, which foreign, unfamiliar goods may not.
Why do governments and relief agencies discourage donations of food, clothing and other goods?
Because cash donations are more useful.
Relief workers on the ground can lose valuable time sorting through unmarked or inaccurately labelled boxes of privately donated goods when the necessary supplies can be purchased locally and cheaply.
Food, clothing and other goods may not be appropriate for the climate or the culture of the affected population.
If goods donated by the public are not appropriate for a given crisis, they may end up not being used, but will have been expensive to transport to the affected region.
In some parts of the world, items such as used clothing and blankets are subject to import regulations that call for fumigation for instance. If the goods have not been processed accordingly, they can be refused entry into the affected country, clog up air and seaports and thereby delay the processing and release of essential relief supplies. In other words, your well-intentioned goods may slow down the distribution of appropriate relief supplies in the affected country.
Donations of out-of-date medicine and medical supplies can do more harm than good to the health and survival of an affected population. In addition countries regulate the import of medicine; the medicines you send might be forbidden from passing through a country’s customs, and money will have been wasted in transporting them from overseas.
(Excerpts only / Source: http://www.international.gc.ca/humanitarian-humanitaire / Accessed on 11-13-2013)