About a year ago, Hurricane Maria struck the coast of Puerto Rico. At that time, my team launched an investigation to see if there was any way that DonorSee could help out.
We learned that many houses had lost their roofs from the storm. So I created a project to raise money for tarps. These tarps were going to cover the houses of Hurricane Maria victims.
At the time, I felt good about this plan. I thought this was a great example of DonorSee coming to the rescue during a time of need.
But sometimes, your expectations don’t match up with reality. Especially right after a major disaster.
We were able to raise over a thousand dollars from our generous donors. So we sent the money to our on-the-ground partners right away.
In the past, we’ve had a lot of success immediately after disasters and I assumed this would be no different. But this was different.
Our on-the-ground contacts were unable to get the tarps out.
The devastation suffered by Puerto Rico was way worse than anyone anticipated. Our partners in Puerto Rico were partnering with other organizations including FEMA and were working 12+ hour days. Their schedules were hectic, chaotic and they were stretched way too thin.
The power was down, the streets were flooded, debris was everywhere. This lasted for months and all of it compounded to make effective relief very difficult. By the time they could finally catch their breath, the tarps were no longer needed.
Why Am I Telling You This?
As the CEO of DonorSee, I want you to trust us. I believe that’s only accomplished when we can both celebrate our successes and be vulnerable in our shortcomings. Our Puerto Rico project was a shortcoming. Circumstances were outside of our control, but that doesn’t change the fact that things didn’t go as planned.
Thankfully, our on-the-ground partners were able to wire the money back to us before any tarps were purchased.
So, instead of repurposing the donations we received for a different cause than what our donors intended, we have decided to refund our donors in full. We are even going to cover any reversal fees. This will allow the donors to decide how that newly-freed-up money should be spent (or donated), not us.
Disclaimer: the charity world is complex, and there are going to be instances where money isn’t optimally spent. Given the nature of our fast and efficient model, refunds will normally be impossible. But Puerto Rico was a situation where the money had not yet been spent and we wanted to do right by our donors.
This situation was also one of the motivations behind why DonorSee moved to our new model that focuses on smaller and more personalized projects. This is what we are good at and this is what we are excited to work on everyday.
And, as we work on these projects, we will always be straightforward.
Thank you for your support. We will not let you down.
As a reminder: anyone who joins our monthly giving program in January gets a free black DonorSee hat. Please join: donorsee.com/monthly