Exactly a week ago today, a magnitude-7 earthquake ripped through Haiti, flattening its capital, Port-au-Prince, and numerous surrounding villages. Since then, the international media has shown us images of demolished buildings, injured and deceased victims, overcrowded medical clinics, looting, and hunger -- utter devastation. The death toll is ever-rising, and officials now say it could reach 200,000. Aid is trickling in, but the scale of destruction -- in a nation that was impoverished to begin with -- is earning this the title of "one of the worst natural disasters of the century."
3 pleas for Haiti relief
A recent New York Times article said as much when recapping the efforts of President Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to raise money for Haitian relief efforts from corporations, foundations, and individuals. The author points out the unique position of the U.S.:
"...the untold number of the dead in what has turned into by far one of the worst natural disasters in a century gave the three a rallying point to express common ground and belief in the American spirit of giving, and that they did."
To date, U.S. corporations have given $69 million in aid, according to the Business Civic Leadership Center, and the list includes big names such as Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , Altria Group (NYSE: MO ) , and General Electric (NYSE: GE ) . In addition, companies like Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT ) are giving generous in-kind donations of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, and familiar faces like Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) are leveraging their huge networks to partner with relief organizations and facilitate donations.
Small donations, big differences
Still, while corporate America's multimillion-dollar donations are certainly helpful, the importance of the individual donor shouldn't be ignored. Small donations play a big part. In fact, after the 2004 tsunami, $2.78 billion of the $6.2 billion came from individual donors in the U.S. The median donation was $50, and the average donation $135.
The Motley Fool is embracing this idea and doing our part to aid the victims in Haiti. We'll make our own generous donation to Mercy Corps, a former Foolanthropy partner, and we'd like to encourage the Fool community at large to do so as well. We're not a huge Fortune 500 corporation, but the Fool has a passionate, dedicated community that has rallied in the past for many different causes. Fools, we urge you to take a pause from your work, and consider giving $10, $20, or $50 to one of the worthy organizations below. Your donation could have a bigger impact than you may think.