News and analysis
April 27, 2015

Nonprofits Mobilize in Wake of Deadly Nepal Earthquake

Bulent Doruk, Anadolu, Getty Images

Turkish paramedics treat a fainted child at a tent camp site in Katmandu, Nepal.

U.S.-based aid groups swung into action in response to the earthquake in Nepal as rescue workers searched the rubble and the toll of the killed and injured continued to rise.

By Monday, the Jewish Federation of North America, the Red Cross, and World Vision and had dedicated the home pages of their websites to fundraising for disaster relief in Nepal. Doctors Without Borders said on its website it has sent eight teams to respond to the humanitarian crisis. Unrestricted funds, it noted to donors, "allow us to allocate our resources most efficiently and where the needs are greatest."

PayPal, the online-payment company, had a banner across the top of its website encouraging its customers to donate, with funds being direct to groups including Save the Children, Oxfam, and AmeriCares. Technology companies including Google and Facebook deployed tools to help users in the affected region check in with family members and friends.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday killed more than 4,000 people and left many more homeless. The epicenter of the quake was about 50 miles northwest of the capital city of Kathmandu. It leveled many historical buildings, sent shock waves throughout the region, and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mt. Everest.

In a statement Saturday, the White House said it was deploying a team of disaster-response experts and providing an initial $1 million in relief assistance. On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the government would provide an additional $9 million.

Nepal, a mountainous country of about 28 million people, is sandwiched between Tibet and India. It has suffered some major earthquakes in the past, according to the United States Geological Survey. In 1988, a 6.9-magnitude earthquake killed 1,500 people. And in 1934, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake killed an estimated 10,600 people and severely damaged Kathmandu.

Groups including AmeriCares and Project HOPE said over the weekend they would deploy disaster-response teams. Joe Mettimano, vice president for marketing and campaign engagement at Global Impact, an organization that raises money for more than 120 international charities, often through workplace-giving campaigns, said he and his colleagues began hearing from their corporate partners almost as soon as the earthquake struck. Moved by heavy media coverage, people are looking for a way to contribute, he said. Global Impact has set up a fund to distribute to groups based on the scope of their response in Nepal.

The charitable response from private donors in the United States could be bolstered by Nepal's status as a tourist destination for Americans and other Western travelers. It is particularly popular with mountaineers and other outdoor enthusiasts. In 2013 the United States ranked third in the number of tourists it sent to Nepal — 47,355, according to Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. No. 1 and No. 2 were neighboring India and China.

Here are some of the dedicated funds set up in response to the disaster:

  • Global Impact has established the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. Recipient organizations include AmeriCares, CARE, International Rescue Committee, and Mercy Corps.
  • Geneva Global, which has managed a multimillion-dollar development program in Nepal since 2011, established the Nepal Recovery Fund. It says it can handle donations up to $1 million, with the money to be distributed to community-based organizations.
  • A CrowdRise campaign set up in honor of Google executive Dan Fredinburg, killed in the avalanche at a Mr. Everest base camp, had raised $42,866 by Monday afternoon.

Send an email to Megan O'Neil.