From the devastating fires in California, to humanitarian crises around the globe, many aid organizations are collecting donations and jumping in to help.
Traditionally, this has involved using donation funds to provide shelter, medicine, clothing and food to those in need. But a relatively new and turnkey way relief and government organizations are distributing aid is through prepaid cards.
There are countless benefits of providing prepaid cards to those impacted by disaster several of which I am going to share with you today.
- Rapid Relief: There’s often very little, if any, preparation time before disaster strikes. In an instant, people are uprooted, possibly injured and lacking all of life’s basic necessities they had before the disaster hit. They need help and they need it fast.
A prepaid card can be distributed quickly. For example, in the Fort McMurray fire in 2017, 10,000 cards loaded with a total of $6 million were issued to those impacted in the course of just two days.
- Flexibility of Support: While organizations still provide in-person food and shelter, the evacuation of an area is an ongoing ordeal. It’s quite common for jobs to be on hold while a family searches for temporary housing, food, gas and other daily necessities, without having any income coming in. All the while reoccurring expenses like housing, memberships and monthly bills continue to pour in. Prepaid field cards allow people the flexibility to get exactly what they individually need. In a time when they have lost control of so much, the cards empower people, allowing them to address their specific needs, rather than just having the option of whatever hard goods people donated.
- Controlled Parameters: As much a benefit as the card is to the person receiving it, it also streamlines the process for aid organization issuing it. Prepaid cards give aid organizations multiple levels of payment control, allowing the organization to manage inventory, funding levels, allocations and activations.
Program managers can customize parameters to fit the specific needs of recipients in real time in the field. For example, cards can be restricted to include only certain merchants or certain geographic locations. This can help ensure the card is being used as intended and that, in addition to helping the recipient, it’s also helping rebuild the local economy of the area affected by the disaster.
The organization can also control things like maximum transaction amount, ATM usage and online purchasing. For security purposes, organizations can control the activation of cards by having them activated by a field representative. Cards can also be given to the recipient in an inactive state with a protocol for activation.
- Essential Data: Because prepaid cards are a digital product, they offer aid organization a wealth of data that can be used to measure the results of the program. This data can be used by program managers to analyze and refine strategies and allocate additional budget. The issuing organization will receive information on anonymous trends on activation, the type of merchants where the cards were used and the geographic area purchases took place in. This can be helpful in identifying new geographic locations that are hot spots for those impacted, so organizations can provide additional support, as needed.
When disaster hits it’s a tragedy to all involved, but with the use of prepaid cards, aid organizations are able to help people regain control and rebuild their lives.