It's just over a year now since the earthquake in Haiti and the great wave of public giving that followed. Aid organizations are now being asked to prove that the donations they received have been:
2. Made a difference.
As I wrote about here, I gave my donation to MSF and, just over a week ago, they sent me this email.
I was really pleased that the email came from an MSF volunteer doctor, but the content didn't quite live up to my expectations. The thank you, for example, is a little underwhelming. Jonathan Grapsas had a rather better experience which he writes about here with MSF in Canada.
Still, in the interests of research, I downloaded the report and watched the short video. Despite picking it up a few times, I haven't managed to finish the 36-page report, but the film – as you'll see below – has some pros and cons.
Prompted by MSF's offering, I thought I'd take a look at what other organizations have produced. They all face the difficult task of needing to share achievements, but also acknowledge that the situation for many people remains dire.
My selection is random, based on what came up in Google and You Tube searches. So if you have other examples you'd like to share, I'd be delighted. You can use the comments section below or send them to me. It would be great to see what you liked – or didn't.
MSF – views 1,925
(If you have trouble playing the films, I found a double click into You Tube did the trick)
There are plenty of facts and figures in this report – and one particularly crucial one. MSF was the only organization I found which said it had spent all the donations it had received for Haiti within the year. That goes a long way towards convincing me I gave to the right organization.
The film is pretty comprehensive, covering the cholera outbreak too. But for me, it only really comes to life when the MSF medics are speaking. The voice over is, I guess, deliberately dispassionate, but isn't giving about emotion? Didn't we give because we care? There's one moment in this film which could (should?) move you to tears, but it doesn't. I'll leave you to find it.
Save the Children USA - 241 views
Isn't it nice to be thanked? Save the Children USA has two versions of this film - the longer one above is a thank you version for donors. From the first beats, you can see they've tried to create a more dynamic, upbeat mood. We see children in temporary schools and permanent schools being built, as well as other examples of what donations have helped to do. In contrast to MSF's films, we hear from Haitian children and parents.
Because the voice over comes from a person we actually engage with and have been thanked by, there's also a chance to make an ask for further support.
Plan USA -775 views
Once it gets going, this one is pretty similar to Save the Children's. It ends with this graphic which I liked to sum up their activities.
American Red Cross - 9,337 views
Very like the previous two, but slicker. Feels like a honest assessment of achievements and set backs.
Oxfam UK - 689 views
Content-wise this one is very light indeed. If you like upbeat music and images, this is for you.
ActionAid UK - 22 views
No voice over. No ActionAid staff. No mood music. Just footage of a Haitian family describing their situation. ActionAid has produced some lovely films in this way to show donors who bought their virtual gifts what they were supporting, which you can see here. I didn't think this one was quite as good though.
UNICEF - 4,854 views
Am I allowed to say I hate the start, where I'm told I'm watching 'unicef television'? This is very 'newsy', but as a result feels distant and impersonal. I'm guessing this hasn't been produced for donors.
Christian Aid – 111 views
This is a mix of film footage and slide show. I didn't mind that, but I didn't feel I really learned what Christian Aid has done in Haiti.
One thing you may have noticed is that most of these films have a very low number of viewings (even after I'd watched them repeatedly!). It may sound harsh, but I'd say they just aren't entertaining enough. Turn off the visuals and, in many cases you're listening to a list – there's no story to engage.
It's by no mean perfect, but I found a news report, which provides an interesting contrast.
Just like the films above, it sets out of report on Haiti one year on. But within a minute you have seen the difference that one year can make - it's a father who, against the odds, still has his little girl. The wound on her head and knee are healed and we're treated to her tremendous smile. The report goes some way towards the delivering the great feeling that a donor needs, before then looking at the areas where more help is needed.
I feel a bit sorry that the report I liked best didn't come from a charity at all. But what do you think? Have you seen/received anything better? Post below if you have something good to share.
* UPDATE * UPDATE * UPDATE * UPDATE *
Concern Worldwide has this nice dedicated web page, giving feedback on their work in Haiti. It includes some films, a map and some facts and figures. Click here to view the live site.