Donating to Sidr Relief

Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum are saying that it is now time to start plugging for donations for relief for Bangladesh in the wake of Sidr. I mildly disagree. Let me explain.At this moment, I have yet to find a single on line secular vehicle for donating to this particular issue. If you go to the UN, for instance, there is a button you can press on a site that discusses Sidr to give WFP money, but there is nothing indicating where this money goes once you’ve pressed it.Just as the world’s press was unready and apparently still is unable to deal with a major disaster in remote and neglected Bangladesh, the relief channels are not quite ready either.So, my plan is to keep an eye out for vehicles to help, and I’ll post what I find. By the time YOU read this, there may be something available that I’ve missed, or I very well may have missed something. Send me what you know about or comment below.Remember: I know there are lots of places to give away your money. I’m looking for a relief agency that is a) secular and b) actually acknowledges that this disaster is happening and that they intend to help.I also understand that in the long run it is better to leg agencies like UN WFP make the decisions about what is needed and where it should go. And in the long run I’m happy to do that. Hopefully they will get more money and stuff for Sidr than they need and can then do something useful with that. But I do not believe the system is exactly optimized or clean, if you know what I mean.So let the relief agencies show us that they are not living in a cave by typing four letters on the web page asking for your money:Sidr.Can’t be that hard.

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9 thoughts on “Donating to Sidr Relief

  1. greg, fair enough, does red cross/red crescent count or not count as secular? i know they are working on the ground already. i don’t know if they have a particular page up, though, that ensures your dollars go specifically to sidr

  2. Dear FriendsWe are a religiously and politically neutral US-based tax-exempt organization in the US. In the past, we sent funds through BRAC, Bangladesh based largest NGO in the world, to provide immediate relief and long-term help to the survivors. We are in touch with them again to make similar arrangement. Depending on the amounts we raise, our focus will be to support further construction of cyclone shelters — Bangladesh gets hit by one cyclone on average every 1.5 years.Alhough I have never visited the cyclone prone areas of Bangladesh, I am glad that a three-story cyclone shelter-cum-school we built from a fundraising effort in New Orleans after the 1991 cyclone by the Louisiana Bangladesh Society. This structure is at Laldiar Char in Patenga, Bangladesh, and it has been a safe place for thousands of people over the past decade and half during cyclones and flood.Collectively, we can help both those in immediate needs and for future generations by wisely using the funds we collect. Will you consider making a donation through us? You can do it through the BAFI Online store at or directly at, write your check to BAFI and write “Cyclone Sidr Relief Fund” on the memo line and mail it to:C/o Mr. Wahed HossainiChair, BAFI Bangladesh Development Fund7008 Bethnal CtSpringfield, VA 22150USANo amount is too small in collective efforts.Wishing everyone wellDr. Badrul HaqueChair, Board of Trusteeswww.bafi.orgTel. 301 216 9656

  3. Son of Priam:You are joking, of course.The vast majority of aid in most circumstances where aid is distributed goes through secular sources.But many people like giving money via an agency that also reflects their creed. Christians tend to not give money through Jewish relief agencies, and Jews tend to not give money through Christian relief agencies.Atheists may fee very uncomfortable giving money through religious organizations.

  4. Fair enough – I also prefer to not donate through religious organizations, but if Red Cross/Red Crescent is the organization that is already in the area, and has the infrastructure in place to do some real good, wouldn’t it make more sense to send your money to them?

  5. Heather,Is it ever the case that there is not a non-sectarian group out there when needed? I doubt it very much. CARE was the first group on the ground in Bangladesh. The UN is always very well positioned as well.By the way, the Red Cross is not a religious group any more than our money (“in god we trust”) is religious. The American Red Cross, for instance, is a federally chartered corporation. Each country’s red cross/crescent is semi- or quasi-governmental, and the International RC/C is a little like the UN in that it is everywhere yet no where.I find the “cross” bit very annoying, of course.Personally, I was not sure until I checked on it. Chris Mooney was saying to me he thinks they are not a religious group, and at first I was not sure. I told him that I always thought the Red Cross was the Political Wing of the Salvation Army (but I might have said it too seriously, I’m not sure if he knew that I was joking).

  6. Greg said: “…The vast majority of aid in most circumstances where aid is distributed goes through secular sources…”Does that statement just “seem right” to you, or do you have the numbers to back it up?

  7. Thanks, Greg! I thought (due to the symbolism of the cross and crescent) that RC/C was at least founded in religion, and that the UN acted primarily through Red Cross in situations like this. The last several disasters I donated through Red Cross, as they seem to be the ones able to actually get something done. As long as they aren’t taking advantage of the situation to do some missionary work on the side (which I saw a lot of in a brief visit to New Orleans, but not from Red Cross).

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