Hurricane Relief September 4, 2005 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Fionab had the excellent idea of setting up a MetaFilter Hurricane Relief Fund. It's gone live now. (More inside.)
posted by Vidiot to MetaFilter-Related at 11:32 AM (18 comments total)

She writes:
This came out of the extensive posts, outrage, heartfelt requests for help, and general interest in supporting our members who have gone through this hurricane. We will email members in the affected areas, asking if they could use a little bit of cash to get through the next little while. If they respond in the affirmative, they'll be placed on the list for donations. All of the money raised through this campaign will be split amongst members on the list. We will either buy them a gift card for an expense they'd prefer (gas, groceries, Home Depot, etc.) or send them cash, depending on how much money we're talking about and the logistics of both options.

Please keep in mind that these members likely have nothing - no home, no clothes, no albums, little food - and are facing a very, very long rebuilding process. Several members are hosting other locals who have nowhere else to go, and are providing food/generators/housing to those people out of their own pocket. We're trying to put our money where our mouth is - we are able to wax poetic on all things political, technological, inane, and beautiful - but the most beautiful thing would be to support each other in these most trying of times. I know times are tight for all of us. But part of being a community is pitching in when it's needed most, and this may be one of those moments when doing something small like this will make a big difference to those receiving it.

I picked $2,000 USD as a number which may or may not be reached, and may or may not be appropriate depending on how many people request help. I will post more as we have more information, but I felt it was imperative to start the process of collecting funds sooner rather than later, as we are more likely to give when the need seems greatest.

Please give what you can. If you don't use PayPal, email me (fionab2 at hotmail dot com) and we'll figure something else out. Thanks in advance for your support, and let me know if you have any questions.
posted by Vidiot at 11:33 AM on September 4, 2005

Any chance of putting this on the sidebar, Matt?
posted by Vidiot at 11:34 AM on September 4, 2005

Thanks Vidiot. I had run out of posts here for a few more days, so he was nice enough to post it for us. The DropCash fund is indeed live. It provides a bit more transparency than me simply connecting money on my own. BUT, if you do not use PayPal, as I listed above, please post in the comments on the DropCash site how much you are sending me, and if you like your username so I can keep track of you. You can send me a cheque or cash (well wrapped) and I will include that in the final amount.

Also, the process at the moment is that I'll round up the members in the zip codes affected as listed here, send them an email to the effect of the above, and ask them if they could use a little cash to get through these times. I would hope that members who are financially solvent would be generous enough not to request funds from this small source. If anyone has a better idea or suggestion for this process, or is willing to help me collect the zip codes and member email addresses (we could split up the zip codes, compile the list, then have one member send an email to all on the list), let me know - I'm in the midst of a semester, and have a Katrina refugee starting in my class (that the school accepted), so will be spending time catching her up as well. Any help in this process would be well received.

Also, I will personally take care of the fees that PayPal imposes. I don't know exactly how much that will be, but since I can't donate to my own fund, that's how I will contribute. If it's some ridiculous amount, I may have to reconsider, but I'm hoping it will be manageable.
posted by fionab at 11:43 AM on September 4, 2005

Please please please please PLEASE be careful with this. Paypal is not a bank, and can take your money and hide it away for a million years if they want to. They already froze the Something Awful money that people donated.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:44 AM on September 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

Info on what happened to SomethingAwful is here.
posted by interrobang at 11:52 AM on September 4, 2005

Yeah, I wasn't aware of that particular case, but I do know that it can be a problem. However, when I posted that first thread, I was open to other forms of collecting, but didn't see an alternate source. Nobody emailed me to suggest another way, or to caution me on not doing this at all. I hadn't seen the Something Awful debacle.

Since we likely won't collect in the order of that magnitude, and are using a DropCash procedure, I think it will work out okay. In the meantime, alternate formats of contributing are incredibly welcome - I don't mind amalgamating several sources. Just let me know how to do it/find the source. I'm really not trying to poo-poo the possible dangers of it, I just sincerely don't know of another way that is just as easy for contributors and has as good of an interface as DropCash. Maybe for bigger contributions (greater than $50? $100?), you should post a comment in the DropCash forum, then send me a cheque. That would keep the PayPal fund lower. I'm willing to do anything that you think would a) keep PayPal uninterested in that fund, and/or b)make it easier or safer for people. Any and all suggestions are welcome. If you'd rather buy an online giftcard for an online store or brick-and-mortar shop instead, just let me know in the comments: that would also keep the PayPal fund lower and could be sent to one of the recipents who could use a certain item/service.
posted by fionab at 11:56 AM on September 4, 2005

odinsdream writes "Please don't take my donation as an endorsement of the Paypal requirement. "

It's not a requirement. There are any number of ways to do this, this was the only way I knew, nobody suggested another way, and I'm totally open to other suggestions. Here are the ideas as I see them now:

1) Use the PayPal mechanism through DropCash
2) Send me a cheque, money order, cash, or a gift certificate for a service (Gas, Food, Clothing items, Home Depot/Home Improvement, Drugstore)
3) Buy an online gift certificate for the above items, then email me the instructions/amount/access code.
4) Some other online donation service that I don't know about.

I know I sound defensive, and I don't really mean to be, but I'm trying to do what I can to help those members that are really in need, and I'm open to doing this the best way you know how. I'm not trying to drum up support for any particular process of doing this; I really would like the best way, but the first thread didn't drum up any additional ideas. If this one does, all the better, suggest away!
posted by fionab at 12:12 PM on September 4, 2005

Is there any information about specific existing needs? I wouldn't mind buying some stuff directly from a retailer and having it shipped to someone who's hosting displaced persons (for example).

Thanks for getting this rolling, fionab.
posted by cmonkey at 12:30 PM on September 4, 2005

WolfDaddy posted this Houston aid link which specifies plenty of direct needs of the survivors being hosted in the Houston area.
posted by Miko at 12:53 PM on September 4, 2005

Is there a disadvantage to using Amazon's Honor System? They take 2.9% of the total payment per transaction plus $0.30. Could be a good alternative. I've setup an account there and could make that available.
posted by fionab at 12:54 PM on September 4, 2005

Matt, is there an easy way for you to get the emails of people listed in particular zip codes? Doing this by hand would take a long time, and isn't entirely obvious (find a person in that zip, find people near them, cross-check lists?). The following zip codes are listed as those in the area: 369, 393, 394, 395, 396, 700, 701 and 704. Those are (obviously) prefixes, so the last two numbers are wildcards. If you could email me the email addresses that are associated with their account, it would make this infinitely easier.

ALSO, if you are in one of those zipcodes, email me if you are interested in participating in this fund.
posted by fionab at 1:38 PM on September 4, 2005

Thank you, fionab and Vidiot, for giving us a chance to make a community donation. I haven't had anything to post -- too much sorrow, too much anger to be coherent or helpful, but this is Good. You have my heartfelt gratitude.
posted by melissa may at 10:05 PM on September 4, 2005

We're a bit lower than I thought we'd be at this point, but there is a little glitch in the PayPal side of things (it seems to be okay now), and we just got posted to the sidebar on the front page. However, if you know a MeFi member who would be likely to donate and hasn't yet done so, please let them know that it's live. Thanks!
posted by fionab at 10:07 AM on September 5, 2005

It may or may not do too well. For my part, I'd given all I can out of my budget before this link was posted. So I'm afraid I can't help out in the name of MeFi. Others might have done the same.
posted by Miko at 10:30 AM on September 5, 2005

If you a member affected by the hurricane, email me.

If you know a member affected by the hurricane, email me.

If you are a member, hosting people (especially other MeFites) affected by the hurricane, email me.

If you know people on here that even live in the affected areas, please post them here or email me directly.

Trying to get the ball rolling on the donation distribution tactics. Thanks!
posted by fionab at 11:11 AM on September 5, 2005

It occurred to me that we could set up some sort of escrow account for the fund.
I had two other thoughts regarding this:
1) In the interest of transparency, we could make sure that every penny of the fund gets donated, either to a needy household (make a list and post it, again for transparency) or to a larger organization.
2) We could ditch this independent fund and roll the money over into a permanent Meta foundation. We could set something up and call it "MetaNeed" as a permanent resource for any MeFi-ers who find themselves in a difficult spot. What if, a few months from now, disaster strikes another part of the world? We should have a mechanism in place to support this community's members in the future.
If we could organize this in an official way and put the Metafilter stamp on it, I think it might reduce any anti-scam fears and command more community support. Also, it'd be easier to employ volunteers from our community.
What do you think?
posted by Jon-o at 4:44 PM on September 5, 2005

The amount listed as donated seems to go up and down every time I check the page and in fact is lower than the amount listed before I donated several days ago. Any idea what's up?
posted by gwint at 7:27 AM on September 6, 2005

As I said in the DropCash thing, it was a problem with my account. It was entirely my fault and is fixed now. It's because I was verified in Canada but not the US, etc., but is all totally normal now. The amount posted is the amount donated. I apologise for the trouble.
posted by fionab at 8:47 PM on September 6, 2005

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