Council on Foundations – Different responses to disaster in Myanmar and China

The Myanmar cyclone and the China earthquake in early May both triggered a strong humanitarian response from members of the Council on Foundations, but the level of response in each case differed significantly, the Council has found.

Twenty-one Council members report giving a combined total of over $30 million in grants, employee gift matching and product donations for the China earthquake. While a few grants have come through US community foundations, a family foundation and the Asia Foundation’s Give2Asia facility, the bulk of this giving has come from major US corporations with commercial interests in China. The largest corporate gifts reported to the Council were made by the Intel Foundation, Avon Foundation, IBM, Cisco and BP. Many companies also donated products such as servers and other technology, medical items, transportation, foodstuffs and tents to assist Chinese agencies with the logistics and management of their disaster response.

The response to the Myanmar cyclone was far more modest. Eighteen Council members gave a total of $2 million, the largest grants coming from Give2Asia/Asia Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Hewlett-Packard Company Foundation, Bank of America, UPS, Cisco and IBM.

The lower response to the Myanmar disaster is due principally to two factors: the absence of an American corporate presence in that country owing to the US Government’s economic embargo instituted in 1997; and the less than cooperative attitude of Myanmar’s ruling military junta, which blocked aid and relief workers from reaching the most severely affected parts of the country.

The Council on Foundations will sponsor an online learning event, Disaster Response for Grantmakers: Resources, Tools & Lessons Learned, on 2 October 2008. The webinar will reference the 2007 Council-EFC publication Disaster Grantmaking: A practical guide for foundations and corporations.

For more information
To download Disaster Grantmaking and/or register for the webinar, visit the Council’s website at

Council on Foundations
Director, International Programs: Rob Buchanan
T +1 202 466 6512

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