Disaster Giving: American Express


Image Source: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images

When natural disasters strike, generous people around the world open their wallets to give to organizations helping victims. Here at JustGive, we are lucky to partner with companies like American Express® who enable their cardholders to quickly provideAmerican Express Logo support.

After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, American Express reached out to JustGive to find a fast, easy solution for their cardmembers who wanted to help.

Timely Disaster Campaigns

Within 24 hours of each disaster, JustGive launched online fundraisers so American Express cardholders could donate to charities directly providing victims with emergency services, shelter, healthcare and food.

Cardholders simply visited the American Express MembersGive website to donate using their American Express credit card or their Membership Reward points.

JustGive helped American Express identify and vet the key charities aiding victims for each disaster, whether they were U.S.-based organizations offering aid (like the American Red Cross), or other charities local to the region where the disaster took place.

American Express supported its cardholders’ generosity by covering all credit card processing fees. That meant that 100% of each donation made it to the charities making a difference.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

The result? Hundreds of thousands of dollars from American Express cardholders were donated to organizations helping disaster victims recover and rebuild.

In its one year post-report for the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, the American Red Cross recognized American Express as a member of its Disaster Responder Program for contributing at least $250,000 annually.

In the last decade American Express has provided assistance for more than 50 disasters in 35 countries, through such leading disaster relief agencies as the American Red Cross and International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Doctors Without Borders, International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, and the United Nations World Food Program.

We’re proud to make it possible for American Express and its cardholders to respond quickly and effectively to tragic disasters around the world. It’s one way JustGive helps companies make an impact with charitable giving programs for their customers or employees.

– Sarah Bacon

Director of Product



Change the World: Educate and Empower Girls

Change the World: Educate and Empower Girls

As the mother to a little girl, I find myself deeply concerned by the amount of pink in the girls’ toy aisle. I don’t like the message about “ideal” body type Barbie sends my daughter and her friends. And I’m disturbed that in the United States, there’s still a gender gap in earnings, with women making approximately 19% less than their male counterparts. None of these issues should be taken lightly—we have a lot of work to do.

In the United States, though, we should consider ourselves lucky that our problems of inequality are about equal pay for equal work. We are privileged that our worries focus on things like “all of these female dolls are blonde.” That’s not to say these issues aren’t important; but they pale in comparison to the obstacles girls face in developing countries, where their reality is bleak:


  • Women and girls make up half the world’s population, yet represent 70% of the world’s poor.
  • Girls are three times more likely to be malnourished than boys.
  • Women make up 70% of the world’s working hours and earn only 10% of the world’s income—half of what men earn.

LEARN MORE: Read Is Empowering Women the answer to ending poverty?
Statistics Source: Girl Rising, Because I am a Girl

Child Marriage

  • Over the next decade, 142 million girls are expected to marry before they turn 18.
  • Child marriage is most common between the ages of 12 and16, but can occur in girls as young as 3-4 years old.

LEARN MORE: Watch The Bride Price: Consequences of Child Marriage Worldwide
Statistics Source: The Bride Price


  • 67 million children worldwide don’t go to school. Over half are girls.
  • 60% of children interviewed in India agreed that if resources are scarce, it’s better to educate a boy than a girl.
  • $92 billion is the estimated economic loss for countries that do not educate girls to the same level as boys.

LEARN MORE: Watch Girl Rising Documentary
Statistics Source: Because I am a Girl

We can view these statistics with personal empathy—by picturing the faces of the girls who want, more than anything, to learn. Our hearts can ache for child brides. Thinking about girls growing up in these conditions is enough to compel most of us to take action.

But we can also view this issue from the perspective of logic and practicality. If our vision for the world is that of peace, human rights, and affluence, we should start by educating girls.

Research shows that educating girls can have an enormous impact not only on individuals, but also for local communities and the global economy:

  • One extra year of school boosts a girl’s future wages by 10-20%.
  • If 10% more girls are educated, a country’s GDP increases by as much as 3%.
  • Knowledge and skills learned at school are passed onto her parents and the community.
  • Education drastically reduces child marriage. On average, a girl with 7 years of education will marry 4 years later and have 2.2 fewer children.
  • A girl who completes basic education is three times less likely to contract HIV.

Statistics Source: Girl RisingBecause I am a Girl

From these statistics, it’s easy to see the value of educating girls. But when you think of how many women and girls live in developing countries, figuring out how to help might feel a little overwhelming.

How to Help

Making a difference is easier than you think. Charities are working all around the globe, making huge strides. Here are just a few small ways you can help them change the world:

  1. $20: Give a laptop to a child in Lesotho, Africa through Laptops to Lesotho
  2. $30: Buy a school uniform through 10×10 Fund
  3. $50: Pay school fees for one girl, for one year through 10×10 Fund
  4. $50: Provide an African student with a uniform and mosquito net through Maranyundo

Or donate more if you can:

Women around the world face enormous barriers, simply for being born female. Help remove their obstacles, and give girls in other countries equal access to education. It doesn’t take a lot to make a huge difference.

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Haiti: What a difference a year makes?

Last January 12th, Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 earthquake—killing over 230,000 people and leaving more than 1 million homeless. The magnitude of the catastrophe, and the effort needed to rebuild are sometimes hard for me to grasp.

Just last week, the Huffington Post spoke of the delay in progress to aid survivors and rebuild. The Chronicle of Philanthropy states only 38 percent of the $1.4 billion donated by Americans to help survivors and begin rebuilding has been spent. Compared to Katrina, $3.3 billion was raised with 80 percent spent in the first year.

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Photo Credits: Allison Shelley (All Rights Reserved)

Like many donors who want to know their money is going to good use, my initial reaction was frustration. The recovery process seems stagnant. Why are survivors still living in substandard conditions? The fragile nation was most recently hit by a cholera outbreak. But I know the solutions aren’t simple; rebuilding will take years, likely a decade or more.

The Nonprofit Times interviewed Charlie MacCormack, CEO of Save the Children, who worries “the bulk of funds will be spent on this stabilization. It’s handing the people a fish, instead of teaching them to fish.” Julie Sell of the American Red Cross said they “will remain rebuilding in Haiti until every one of its donated dollars is spent.”

JustGive’s commitment to Haiti

In February 2010, we pledged $25,000 to match your donations for Haiti relief and rebuilding. To restore the country and help empower the Haitian people, we disbursed over $75k to 26 charities, including our partner organizations like Friends of the Children of Haiti, Grace Mission to HaitiHaiti Micah Project, Lamp for Haiti and the Robert Ford Haitian Orphanage and School Foundation.

Our biggest of the smallest, Friends of the Children of Haiti received $3,800 in donations while our largest charity recipients were Hands Together and Partners in Health which received $24K and $17K, respectively.

In the last year, combining these matching donations with the immediate, one-time donations made, JustGive raised and sent $4.6 million to charities helping Haiti.

Your donations at work

American Red Cross has immunized more than 900,000 people, helping minimize the cholera outbreak. They are also providing more than 660,000 gallons of clean water per day.

Save the Children began to meet the basic needs—food, water, sanitation and shelter—immediately after the quake. Now, efforts are shifting to long-term needs such as a safe place for children to play in the tent villages, clean bathroom and shower areas, and sanitary water sources.

Lutheran World Relief contributed 30,000 health and hygiene kits, 25,500 quilts, 35,700 school kits, 17,500 tarps and 39 large tents for temporary schools. An additional 35,000 health kits assembled at Lutheran summer camps this year are expected to be distributed this month.

Students Together Opposing Poverty (STOP)

This last year, we’ve been following the efforts of students at Naples High School (Florida). Their club, Students Together Opposing Poverty (STOP), began collecting donations from fellow students and faculty immediately following the earthquake. Challenged by a promise from their teacher to match funds raised, together, they generated nearly $10,000 in Haitian relief. (Read more about their fundraising efforts, including Concert for a Cause which raised $2,500 in donations.)

Continuing to help
Updates from the media on progress in Haiti, slow as it may be, are reminders that we still have work to do. When Katrina hit home we saw the devastation first hand. Let’s keep working to help our neighbors struggling to rebuild their home. Make a donation to an organization committed to disaster relief in memory of those who lost their lives last year. Continue giving. Then tell someone about it, share your thoughts with us on Facebook, or follow our conversations on Twitter.

Haiti Relief Update Part II – Nonprofits at Work

Charities creatively, consistently push on

Charities are working hard to provide shelter and guard against death and disease.

Organizations like Mercy Corps are taking creative approaches to solving the problems in Haiti. They teamed up with Mother Jones to help many of the small and medium-sized business that were lost in the earthquake by supporting Haitian entrepreneurs as they reopen their businesses and create much-needed jobs.

Partners In Health reports that last month, four health clinics in Port-au-Prince operated by their partner organization have surpassed 100,000 patient visits since they were first established. The clinics serve four large settlements of displaced survivors of the earthquake. PIH also posted a fascinating series of blogs from workers on the ground.

According to Doctors Without Borders, their teams continue to work to meet changing, but still major medical needsfrom approximately 20 sites and several mobile clinics. “More than one million people are still living in deplorable conditions, beneath tents or plastic sheeting,” says Stefano Zannini, MSF’s head of mission in Haiti. “In the meantime, the rains are intensifying, flooding the sites where earthquake victims live several times a week.”

The Red Cross raised the largest amount of funds for Haiti earthquake relief. On their update page (http://www.redcross.org/haiti) they have an interactive map that includes markers, photos and video where their network provided aid. These cumulative efforts were made possible by a combination of mobile teams and responders at fixed locations to provide drinking water, relief items, vaccinations and other medical assistance.

Ashoka Ashoka Fellow Daphne Nederhorst wrote about her experience on the ground finding local changemakers in Haiti in her post.

These and other nonprofits working in Haiti still need your help. You can still join the hundreds of individuals who have committed to our Rebuild Haiti Campaign and are leveraging our $25,000 match by becoming a monthly donor now.

Naples High School donors keeps raising money

Our friends at Naples High School STOP Club in Florida continue to raise funds for Haiti. A recent Concert for a Cause generated $2,500 to help fund their monthly donation through JustGive to Partners in Health. Nearly 500 people attended the fundraising event described by Club sponsor Cynthia Odierna as “magical.” It included:

  • More than 150 volunteers—a dozen student organizations, and nearly 15 local businesses and individuals providing everything from sound systems to food.
  • A program packed with talent–the Naples High chorus, solo performances, poetry readings, drum circles, and ethnic dance performances.
  • Booths that sold artwork, posters and calendars, and specially made t-shirts and bookmarks, with all proceeds benefiting the cause..

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Club co-president, Carmella Zabala, described the drum circle as so powerful that the crowd began dancing and chanting “Haiti, Haiti.”

While this was his first involvement in raising money for Haiti and he needed convincing to participate, Naples High senior, Taylor Allen, said what he learned about the work of Partners in Health made him an enthusiastic supporter. “I discovered a model of International Aid I believe in and an organization I can really support,” he commented.

Help is still needed

There are average people across the world making an extraordinary impact for Haiti. The Naples High students are just one story that demonstrates how determination and dedication can make a meaningful difference. Join them now by becoming a monthly donor and JustGive will match 50 cents of every dollar you donate. Show Haiti and its residents that while their story may have dropped from media headlines, they are not forgotten.

Update on Relief in Haiti

Is Haiti Forgotten?

In an earlier Haiti earthquake update blog we featured a photo from award-winning photojournalist Allison Shelley who worked with Project Hope while in Haiti. When Allison returned to Haiti for her second time she wanted to bring something back that could help the people she’d met. Five months after the deadly earthquake that rocked Haiti the answer that came back:  tents. The Haitian people still needed a structure to call home.

Led by donors like you, the world responded to Haiti in its time of need. JustGive donors alone gave more than $4.7 million to nonprofits working to aid Haiti. Allison returned to Haiti with tents donated by friends and colleagues so a few more Haitian people would have a dry place to sleep, but with hurricane season threatening their progress, the work to truly rebuild Haiti is far from done.

Long after the majority of giving for Haiti occurred, JustGive donors still haven’t forgotten. They continue to donate money for Haiti. Our matching campaign has raised more than $26,000 to date, and you can help us continue to raise money for nonprofits working to reconstruct Haiti by giving now.

As the photos below that Allison was so kind as to share with our readers, the climb to reconstruct Haiti is an uphill battle, but the Haitian people persevere.

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Photo Credits: Allison Shelley (All Rights Reserved)

Rebuilding Haiti is ongoing

Rubble and collapsed buildings still dominate the Haitian landscape. An estimated 1.3 million people were left homeless by the January earthquake and hundreds of thousands of Haitians are still living in tent camps around Port-au-Prince. Three weeks into hurricane season, with tropical rains falling on a daily basis, 21 of those camps are “high risk” or likely to flood.

The Haitian government continues to look at innovative ways to rebuild their country. On June 17, they launched “Building Back Better Communities,” a global competition to create different housing types that government officials can study before commissioning them for destroyed neighborhoods. The competition, which will have multiple winners, is divided into two parts to attract the greatest variety of ideas.

Notables such as former US President Bill Clinton and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim recently created a $20M fund to help rebuild the Haitian economy. “We have to unleash the ideas, the energy, the creativity of your enterprises. This is a good first step,” Clinton said. “The focus of this fund is to help create jobs not only by helping small- and medium-size business to recover but to do better than they were doing before the earthquake.”

But even with the help of such innovative funds and competitions, the reality is that Haitians still need help from the ground up. Our matching campaign focuses on rebuilding Haiti, because, despite the outpouring of generosity that met the earthquake, our friends in the nonprofit sector told us that their biggest need is sustained support of their efforts in Haiti.

Visit us next week for an update on the impact of your donations to Haiti relief. We’ll focus on some of the work nonprofits are doing on the ground in Haiti.

STOP in the Name of Haiti: Students Give Back

Naples HS Students Give Back

Teenagers. The word strikes fear into parents everywhere. Mind of their own, sometimes sullen, rebellious and … inspiring?

In the wake of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, a group of about 30 high school students defied the stereotype of what a teenager can be by springing into action. The Naples High School (Florida) club, Students Together Opposing Poverty (STOP) started making a difference by collecting donations from fellow students and faculty. And their giving hasn’t stopped. With JustGive’s help, they’re creating a lasting impact.

Giving Back to Haiti

Challenged by a promise from their sponsor and high school teacher Cynthia Odierna to match their fundraising, the group raised $400 that Odierna turned into $800. “Our students have helped Haiti for years,” she explains. “This last fall, STOP members gave at a grassroots, local level (through a homeless shelter), but after the earthquake, they wanted to do more.”

Senior Carmela Zabala, co-president of STOP, explains why giving back is so important, “Everything bad seems to happen to Haiti. It’s a poor country that’s had a lot of conflict. The earthquake gave us an immediate reason to help. Right now, with all that’s going on, the need is so great.”

STOP members collected clothing, medical supplies, and teddy bears for Haiti, enlisted community support, and recruited other clubs at Naples High. They have organized events each month to continue to give for Haiti:

STOP Gets the Rock Out for Haiti

>>>>>In January, STOP joined Kids Against Hunger and packaged 518,000 meals for Haiti.

>>>>>The Student Government Association’s dunk tank and ROTC’s penny wars added to their Valentine’s fundraising efforts in February.

>>>>>Car washes scheduled in March and April.

>>>>>And a big Concert for the Cause is on tap for April 19.

Helping their gift do more

In finding JustGive, the students turned their $800 donation each month into $1,200 through our $25,000 matching campaign. Those funds will go directly to help their chosen nonprofits, Partners in Health (link) and Oxfam America (link) rebuild the services and infrastructure of Haiti.

“When I heard about the matching money, I thought it was awesome,” Zabala told JustGive. “(Raising the money each month) is definitely challenging, but it has helped us get more done and driven more students to help.”

When JustGive started the monthly matching campaign, we wanted to help Haiti beyond just the immediate needs from the earthquake.  We wanted to encourage others to join us and support the long-term recovery of the county.  We’ve found a great partner in the students of STOP. They care enough to give for immediate relief, but are also dedicated to rebuilding Haiti.

More than two months after the earthquake, the Haitian people are still digging out. Most nonprofits haven’t even been able to start rebuilding. That’s why I’m so inspired by the students of Naples High School. They understand the need to continue giving, and to help nonprofits that are in it for the long haul. They providing hope for Haiti’s future. And I’m proud we’re able to help them.

Now there’s  an inspiring story about teenagers to share with your friends —especially parents who have high schoolers of their own.

If more students across the U.S. followed the example of the Naples High STOP members, can you imagine how much donations for Haiti’s recovery could do?

An update on donations to help Haiti

I just learned some exciting news: JustGive donors have responded in strong number to support long-term rebuilding efforts in Haiti!

One month ago, we launched a new monthly gifts matching campaign to help our donors better support the nonprofits working to rebuild the services and infrastructure in Haiti. I’m proud to announce that we’ve already activated nearly $10,000 of donations and matching gifts from JustGive Board and Staff.

Since the devastating January 12 earthquake, our donors have contributed more than $4.7 million to help Haiti. That money will go a long way to provide relief for the country, and it paves the way for recovery efforts by groups like Project Hope that are just beginning to turn to the infrastructure in Haiti.

aboard the USNS Comfort off of the coast of Port au Prince, Haiti, Monday, February 20, 2010.

Photo: Allison Shelley

Follow Project Hope’s Blog to find out more about their work on the ground.

I’m particularly proud of the response we’ve received from 136 donors who responded to our call to support the long rebuilding process that lies ahead for Haiti. Their donations—both large and small—are so valuable to nonprofits on the ground that need continued support. It’s exactly this type of sustained support that is often difficult to secure once the initial wave of generosity begins to ebb.

There’s Still Time to Make Your Gifts Matter More

If you haven’t yet donated, there’s still time to have your monthly gift matched at 50 cents on the dollar (up to $500 per month per donor). Visit Haiti Relief and Rebuilding for information on the more than 75 charities you can support.

Our donors have given to 29 charities working to restore and rebuild Haiti. What if you’d like to help but don’t know which nonprofit to choose to or how to make the most long-term difference with your gift? Here are a few great resources that can help:

  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “Five Principles for Smart Giving to Support Haiti’s Recovery.”, subscription required) offers excellent guidance.
  • Good Magazine’s Haiti Infographics show the human toll of the earthquake and detail what the country’s greatest needs are (created by Stephane Bao – www.good.is).
  • Two organizations, GreatNonprofits and GuideStar®, teamed up to create the Disaster Action Center which presents reviews of nonprofits working in Haiti.  “Now, you can read reviews about Haiti aid organizations written by volunteers and donors and make an informed decision,” says Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits.

Thank you to each one of you who has joined our campaign to rebuild Haiti! Your commitment and gifts will make a difference for their future. If you haven’t yet started a monthly gift for Haiti, join us. Act quickly before the remaining $22,000+ in matching funds run out and we’ll make your gift matter even more.  Whatever nonprofit you decide to help, your support is crucial to the long-term success of efforts to rebuild Haiti.

Tell a friend and make a difference today!

JustGive Gives Back – Haiti Relief and Recovery

Haiti Relief and Recovery

If the energy generated by the earthquake in Haiti was larger than that of an atomic bomb, as earthquake expert Anne Kiremidjian wrote on CNN.com, then the country will need at least three-times as much human energy to rebuild the country.

It’s been two weeks since the devastating earthquake in Haiti, and just now news reports show that things are starting to change for the better. Stores and markets are rising from the rubble; Haitian people are helping their neighbors. The spirit of the Haitian people coupled with the work of aid groups has helped return some sense of normalcy to everyday life. But that’s just a start; there’s so much to do.

Giving for their future
I am in awe of the outpouring of support to stem the crisis in Haiti. JustGive donors alone gave more than $3.1 million in the first week and a half after the earthquake. Those funds helped send much needed emergency supplies and aid to the country. But to ensure rebuilding efforts for the long haul, Haiti recovery organizations need funding for many years. That’s what motivated the Board and Staff of JustGive to do something big.

We have pledged $25,000 of our own money in a matching campaign to help spur long-term giving to nonprofits working to empower the Haitian people and restore the country. For every monthly recurring gift you make through JustGive to a charity working to rebuild Haiti, we will match 50 cents of every dollar donated until we use the $25,000 fund. The match applies for up to $500 per donor each month (so we can make the money go farther and gifts matter more). For details and qualifying charities, visit our Haiti Relief and Recovery page.

The country’s recovery will come through groups like Partners In Health (PIH).

PIH has provided vital health care services in Haiti for more than 20 years and is one of the largest health care providers in the country, working with the Haitian Ministry of Health to deliver comprehensive health care services. Along with their ongoing work to tend to the overwhelming health needs of the people of Haiti, they are already working to rebuild the healthcare infrastructure in the country, as this PBS NewsHour reports.

Building a New Haiti
As you watch the devastation and the personal toll the earthquake caused, it’s difficult to think of opportunity. Yet, that’s exactly why we’re taking the bold step of our $25,000 matching campaign at this point. We want to ensure there is money available when coordinated rebuilding efforts can make the needed impact on the ground.

Organizations like Build Change – which designs earthquake-resistant houses for developing countries and trains locals to build them –will be the second wave of changemakers in Haiti. As Build Change’s founder Elizabeth Hausler described on the Ashoka Tech Podcast: “It’s a huge opportunity to move forward with…a reconstruction that leaves the population in better condition than before the earthquake.”

According to Build Change, after a major earthquake in a developing country, agencies typically build masses of houses that are not always culturally appropriate and sustainable in the local construction sector. Build Change creates a local skills base by training and empowering the victims of tragedy to rebuild themselves, all while stimulating local demand.

In my mind that’s just what Haiti needs. Organizations ready to tap into the indomitable drive of the Haitian people. With your long-term help, we may have found a spark for all the human energy Haiti requires to rebuild.

For more than 60 charities working to help Haiti rebuild that could use your help, see our Haiti Relief and Recovery Page. And pass the word along to your friends and family—together, we can power hope and change for Haiti’s future.

-Grant La Rouche, Director of Marketing

$10 can change lives

Gustav, Hanna and Ike tore through the Carribean and Southeast U.S. leaving little more than debris and loss in their wake. Flooding in Haiti washed away crops ready for harvest and livestock relied upon for survival in a country already facing a food shortage.

Millions of people have already donated to disasters both at home and overseas. Many experience what might be described as “disaster fatigue” and are reluctant to continue giving. Not to mention already difficult financial times – a shaky stock market, gasoline and groceries prices through the roof, unemployment rates and home foreclosures at record highs.

What can I do? The crisis is so big and I don’t have a lot to give

By making a $10 donation to a charity already providing relief you can make a difference in the lives of people who have lost everything.

How many people are on your email list? Make a donation and let everyone in your address book know about it. Your generosity inspires a friend, co-worker or family member. They donate $10 and pass around the link to others. Before you know it, your donation has inspired 100 people to donate $10 each. You helped generate $1000 towards food, fresh water, rebuilding homes, and providing temporary shelter. Most importantly, you give hope to people who have lost everything.

Wow, that was easy. So, how else can I help?

Have a friend with a birthday coming up and don’t know what to get them? Make a dedicated donation and honor their commitment to their favorite cause.

Getting married and don’t need another toaster? Create a charity wedding registry and ask friends and family to make a donation in your names.

Find a local charity and ask about volunteer opportunities.

Want to spread the word? Tell a friend.