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Earthquake in Haiti: Give More Than Disney!

Friday, January 15, 2010

I've been heartbroken this week about the earthquake and devastation in Haiti. Periodic updates from an acquaintance with family in Port-au-Prince bring home the brutality of the situation. And anyone who reads the news knows this is truly catastrophic.

The Walt Disney Company has donated $100,000 to the Red Cross International Fund, to support Haiti's earthquake relief efforts. This is a good thing. A number of companies are contributing to relief efforts, and I hope they will continue to do so. Google, for example, has gotten a good bit of press for its pledge of $1,000,000.

But what does this look like as a percentage of the company's resources? What would it mean if each of us personally took this as an example, and planned our own donations accordingly? What if we wanted to give at least as generously to Haiti earthquake relief as Disney has, based on our own personal financial means?

Let's consider an average 4-person Florida household, whose median income in 2009 was $71,124, according to the US Census. What donation would they give to support Haiti relief efforts, if they used the same proportion as what Disney has given?

In 2009, The Walt Disney Company had revenues of $36,149,000,000, according to their SEC filings. And revenue is perhaps the most fair place to make our comparison. Disney has expenses that are paid out of that revenue (labor, equipment, inventory, etc) but then again so does our family (rent, food, clothes, medicine, etc). Disney's contribution to Haitian relief is 0.0003% of their 2009 income, so our Florida family should be sending the charity of their choice approximately 20 cents.

But what if we look at net profit, rather than revenue? It's absolutely not a fair comparison, since one of those includes your rent money, and the other doesn't. Nonetheless, if we suggested that this Florida family of 4 give the same percentage of their entire household income that The Walt Disney Company has given of their profits, we'd only be asking them to send in $2.15, less than the cost of a single Dole Whip. (Disney has given 0.0030% of their net profits, for those of you playing along at home. Extra bonus points if you look up their current 10-K report and post relevant other ratios in the comments below!)

(Curious how the numbers stack up if we ask this Florida family to base their contribution on Google's percentages? Well, they'd be giving $3.26 if you're looking at a revenue comparision, or $16.83 if you're looking at the radically unfair comparison to net income.)

So, I'm going to ask you to give more generously than Disney has (or Google, for that matter). I assure you that I have done so myself. If you like the Red Cross International Fund, go for it. If you'd like to look around a bit more, the New York Times has a great list. Personally, I'm a fan of Doctors Without Borders. But wherever you give, however you give, think about digging a little deeper, proportionally speaking, than the Walt Disney Company has so far. I do believe you'll feel good about it if you do. Somebody's wishing on a star right now. You could be the one to make a difference.