Disasters seem to come in waves – in 2005 it was the South Asia Tsunami (which struck only a few days before the year began), Katrina, Myanmar, and several smaller – though still disastrous – events. 2010 is starting off with similarly grim news first in Haiti and now in Chile.It never ceases to amaze me that Intel employees, and Intel itself, step up without hesitation to respond. In the matching gift program which just closed for Haiti, nearly 6,000 employees gave more than $1,070,000 for relief efforts. This is being matched by the Intel Foundation, and combines with over $1,000,000 in goods and services donated by Intel Corporation, for a total of more than $3,000,000. When you consider that there is no direct connection to Intel’s business, and that this is a purely humanitarian response, the generosity it represents is pretty staggering. And now, employees are digging into their pockets once more to help in Chile. Over the years, our response to such disasters has evolved and matured. We have learned and applied a number of lessons: • We let Intel employees lead us by their donations. Their open hearts and open pocketbooks define the amount given by Intel Foundation, through a matching program. Employees may give to any relief organization of their choosing, while the Foundation focuses its matching gift on organizations selected to align with our particular objectives. • Each disaster is unique – the two earthquakes we have just witnessed in Haiti and Chile are perfect examples: Two earthquakes, both in the Western Hemisphere — but with that said, there is almost nothing else in common between the two events and the kind of response that will be needed. By the same token, our response will be shaped to each unique circumstance. • We focus our funding on longer term recovery rather than immediate rescue and relief. This gives us time to understand which organizations are best positioned to have the kind of impact we want to support. There is no one organization that will be strong in all countries and all situations. • Schools and children are our natural focus. That is where we will look first as a place to invest our help and support. We also have an increasing focus on women and livelihoods. • Our expertise in IT and communications is one of the most valuable assets we can offer – and Intel’s IT organization is one of the best and most generous partners I could ask for. • Collections of food and clothing are almost always a bad idea. Unless they can be tied to very specific requests that match very specific needs, and where logistics of getting the items directly into the hands of those in need are clearly planned and understood, these can often cause more headaches — and cost more time, effort and money — than those of us on the outside of the disaster looking in can understand or imagine. • Where disaster has struck, volunteers who show up with the best of intentions, but with no training or expertise, can very easily be part of the problem, not the solution. In the rare instances when Intel actually deploys volunteers, they are carefully screened and selected to match their skills to identified needs and tasks. Red Cross offers training and certification, as do other relief organizations, for those who think they may want to lend a hand in future. I welcome your thoughts, questions, ideas and recommendations. I am very proud to be working with the people of Intel, seeking to respond in ways that make a real difference to people in need around the world.
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