Philanthropy expert Mike Rea explores the story of the 2004 tsunami, as well as the Diversified Disaster Giving approach for effective charitable giving to affected communities
December 19, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – On the heels of Hurricane Sandy and for the 8th Anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, philanthropy expert Mike Rea, founder of the “Tsunami Plus 10” Project (www.TsunamiPlus10.org), releases a complementary Viewers Guide on the event’s aftermath and lessons in conjunction with the theatrical release of “The Impossible” starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. The film is an account of a family caught in Thailand during one of the worst catastrophes of our time—the Indian Ocean Tsunami of the day after Christmas, 2004. The Viewers Guide, titled “Beyond The Impossible”, provides the larger context of what happened that day and since. It also includes an important call to action: for Diversified Disaster Giving (DDG), three guiding principles for donors seeking to effectively support long-term recovery for communities they care about. Timely opportunities for helping distressed 2004 tsunami regions exist even today. The highly anticipated film, will open in select cities nationwide on December 21, 2012.
“We applaud the filmmakers for their important film,” says Rea. “We have been working on this Viewers Guide and an accompanying short documentary film because we believe it is paramount to share with the public what happened during the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, what we’ve learned, and how we can most effectively respond to natural disasters. The 2004 tsunami taught us that when donors do their due diligence and prioritize local solutions, the needs of communities can be met for months and even years.”
Hurricane Sandy and the impending release of “The Impossible” provide the backdrop against which the early research and video footage from a summer 2012 research trip to Sri Lanka are being made available immediately—instead of waiting for the 10th Anniversary as originally planned.
Rea’s Diversified Disaster Giving advocates for three shifts in current giving practice: (1) give to recovery in addition to relief, (2) give to local organizations as well as multi-national organizations, and (3) give more than once, supporting immediate appeals but also reserving some of your giving decisions for later.
According to Rea, convenience, habit and lack of knowledge generally lead people to donate solely to large international relief organizations, which he believes certainly have vital roles to play. However, he advises a diversified giving strategy for donors—of any means—who want to make a lasting difference.
According to Gillian Yeoh, disaster recovery specialist at Give2Asia, “The key to Diversified Disaster Giving is to do whatever you can to use your donations to create real, sustainable change. This high bar immediately broadens your perspective beyond short-term relief. It necessitates engagement of local organizations closest to the affected communities and who themselves are part of the solutions in sustaining a long-term recovery. I’ve seen this approach succeed in poor countries and rich ones, from Aceh to Fukushima, and often with very modest sums.”
Give2Asia (www.Give2Asia.org), a non-profit organization co-founded by Rea, which has facilitated more than $200 million in giving since inception, has been instrumental in developing and applying these practices. Its Tsunami Recovery Fund made 57 grants worth $4 million to Asian charitable organizations.
Rea’s belief in the power of personal philanthropy, as well as the extraordinary stories of this seminal global disaster, drove him to create the “Tsunami Plus 10” Project. In 2004, Rea was responsible for working with tsunami donors and for approving tsunami grants to Asian nonprofits. Did it make a difference? How does the promise of philanthropy play out over almost a decade, with the full benefit of hindsight? Where are individual beneficiaries from those projects today?
These questions took Rea back to Sri Lanka in August 2012, along with his Tsunami Plus 10 collaborator Mayra Padilla. They personally saw how Give2Asia’s charitable contributions made a big difference — and where they could do things differently. They filmed their trip and are providing the “lessons learned” in the short documentary film “To Sandy From Sri Lanka”, that is also available for free viewing at www.TsunamiPlus10.org.
As the 10th Anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami nears, Mike Rea plans to create a much larger push around Diversified Disaster Giving to ensure that the public at-large knows where and how to best donate when the next natural disaster occurs.
Rea’s advice for helping with Hurricane Sandy recovery is also included in the free Viewers Guide. He advises checking with Philanthropy New York, the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, or a nearby community foundation to support local organizations that know their communities and are likely to hire locally.
For anyone looking to leverage the lessons from Tsunami Plus 10, reinvest in what works, and target fresh opportunities, donations can be made to the Give2Asia Tsunami Renewal Fund by visiting the www.TsunamiPlus10.org website.
To download the free Viewers Guide, “Beyond The Impossible,” and accompanying short film, “To Sandy From Sri Lanka,” please visit www.TsunamiPlus10.org.
ABOUT “THE IMPOSSIBLE”
A powerful story based on one family’s survival of the 2004 tsunami, “The Impossible” stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor and is directed by J.A. Bayona (“The Orphanage”).
Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three sons begin their winter vacation in Thailand, looking forward to a few days in tropical paradise. But on the morning of December 26th, as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying roar rises up from the center of the earth. As Maria freezes in fear, a huge wall of water races across the hotel grounds toward her.
Based on a true story, “The Impossible” is the unforgettable account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time. But the true-life terror is tempered by the unexpected displays of compassion, courage and simple kindness that Maria and her family encounter during the darkest hours of their lives. Both epic and intimate, devastating and uplifting, THE IMPOSSIBLE is a journey to the core of the human heart.
ABOUT THE “TSUNAMI PLUS 10″ PROJECT
The “Tsunami Plus 10” Project was created as a public service initiative by philanthropy expert Mike Rea. TsunamiPlus10.org explores the legacy of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and provides the Diversified Disaster Giving (DDG) framework for donors wishing maximum impact from their valuable donations. For more information, please visit www.TsunamiPlus10.org.
ABOUT MIKE REA, “TSUNAMI PLUS 10″ PROJECT FOUNDER
Mike Rea is an accomplished entrepreneur and philanthropy expert. He always held an interest in journalism, Asian studies and philanthropy, dabbling in each field after he graduated from Middlebury College, earning a B.A. in Journalism in 1991. From 2000 – 2008, Mike Rea was the co-founder, president and CEO of Give2Asia, which is responsible for over $200 million in personalized philanthropy throughout Asia. Rea also worked as Senior VP of Philanthropic Management at Bank of America – Merrill Lynch where he was responsible for the oversight of $6 billion in charitable assets. He is currently a Senior Program Officer supporting the education strategy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has no involvement in this private project. Rea holds a Masters in Asian Studies from University of California, Berkeley. He currently resides in Seattle, Washington with his wife and daughter.
ABOUT MAYRA PADILLA, “TSUNAMI PLUS 10″ COLLABORATOR AND PHOTOGRAPHER
Mayra Padilla is a San Francisco-based independent marketing consultant, nonprofit volunteer, artist and travel photographer. Raised on the East Coast, and of Cuban descent, Mayra began her career in advertising and brand management working with clients like Clorox, Levi’s, Charles Schwab and, most recently, BlackRock. She has long had an interest in philanthropy that improves people’s lives while preserving their way of life. She and Mike met at Middlebury College. With family and friends in her home state of New Jersey and Cuba impacted by Hurricane Sandy, Mayra’s exploration of disaster philanthropy is especially personal and timely.
Give2Asia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit social enterprise that makes international grant making safe, effective, and impactful. Since its founding in 2001, Give2Asia has raised $206 million in gifts and donations from corporate, foundation, and individual donors for 1,500 community partners in Asia. Give2Asia has demonstrated its ability to serve the needs of international philanthropy with its extensive on-the-ground network, knowledge of diverse social and economic conditions, and expert matching of donor interests with innovative and effective charitable groups. The Tsunami Renewal Fund at Give2Asia offers people a way to re-engage with Thailand and other tsunami-affected communities by reinvesting in known, trusted local organizations. http://give2asia.org/disasterstrategy