Coca-Cola pledged in mid-September to donate $2 million to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief after Harvey and Irma, and further said that they would match all employee donations up to an additional $100,000. Now, in the wake of Maria’s crushing blow to the Caribbean and the two destructive earthquakes in Mexico, Coca-Cola has offered up another $4.3 million.
$1 million of the new pledge will go to the Mexican Red Cross, for immediate aid to the stricken cities. The company is giving another million to the Salvation Army for food and shelter in the hardest hit Caribbean islands. $300,000 is for rebuilding on the islands of St. Kitts, Barbuda, and Turks and Caicos, and the $2 million balance is for long-term reconstruction in Mexico.
On their own, none of those contributions will reach far. The need for disaster aid right now is a bottomless pit. But Coca-Cola’s pledges, $6.3 million in all, will join the flood of support from other companies which is rising above a quarter of a billion dollars in cash, support, and resources.
While Coca-Cola’s efforts are certainly to be commended, one could wish that they had exercised more diligence in choosing their charities. Red Cross and Salvation Army are both very well-known names, which may make them the easy choices, but neither charity has a good reputation in disaster aid.
Red Cross has a 75% score for financial responsibility on Charity Navigator, a watchdog organization that tracks the behavior of nonprofit organizations. As a religious charity, the Salvation Army doesn’t release its financial records and as a result, has no rating. It’s also worth noting that the Salvation Army has a history of applying its aid in a discriminatory fashion.
Even so, money flowing into these affected communities is desperately vital right now, and anything is better than nothing. Hopefully, Coca-Cola will continue to push their pledges up as the damage toll rises. There is much they can do to help people get back on their feet.