By Kelsey Wagner
BSBA Marketing ’12
When an international disaster strikes, people around the world donate essential supplies such as toiletries, clothing, and food. But where do these donations really go? And are they effective in helping those in need?
Sometimes, due to well-intended but inappropriate donations, high shipping costs and ineffective on-site logistics, donated goods don’t actually make it to the disaster zone. Rebecca Gustafson, press officer for USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance said, “I cannot forget the winter coats and prom dresses we saw piled on the airport tarmac after the 2004 Pacific tsunami.” Gustafson recommends cash donations to a reputable humanitarian organization that is working in the disaster-affected area. “Nothing will get there faster or help more,” she added. “And the cash donations will allow experts to buy — often in the struggling local markets — exactly what is needed.”
To better inform those who want to help when disaster strikes, USAID has been working with theCenter for International Disaster Information (CIDI) to hold an annual competition for college students to create public service announcements (PSAs) that help spread the message that cash donations are best.
This year, students from all over the country submitted print and radio PSAs that emphasize the importance of appropriate international disaster response, and build support for international disaster relief work done by well-established, U.S.-based organizations.
Eller marketing seniors Katherine Smith, Ashley Hyne, and Natalie Nelson were awarded CIDI’s first place in the print category for their PSA entitled “Be the Change”. Centered on a photograph of a mother and son, the piece contrasts the value of a dollar spent casually in the U.S. with what that same dollar can do to help a family in a developing country.
“We hope that we will inspire people to give,” Smith said. “Even if you are donating just a dollar, it can make a huge difference in a person’s life during a disaster.”
The students’ advertisement was chosen as the winner after a public vote and approval from a panel of judges. The winning PSA will be used to educate the public about the importance of donating money, rather than material goods, to relief efforts.
This is the second consecutive year that Eller students have brought home top honors in the print category; seven students won in 2010.
The prize of $3,000 earned by Smith, Hyne, and Nelson was donated to the Eller College Department of Marketing.