Less than 5 percent of American donation dollars went to international causes, and an even smaller fraction was allocated for effective anti-poverty relief. Unfortunately, this means that the majority of American charitable dollars never reaches the people in the developing world, those who need our help the most.
The Gaza Strip is among the most densely populated areas in the world, and the 1.8 million Palestinian residents suffer from economy-crippling mobility restrictions. They survived an exceptionally cold winter, in which at least four babies died of exposure, and are now enduring a summer of record-breaking heat.
I founded Tiny Spark four years ago to investigate philanthropy, nonprofits and socially responsible companies. As a former Africa correspondent, I had seen with my own eyes how difficult is it to have lasting impact in places far from where we live and discovered that well-intentioned projects can sometimes cause harm.
The cholera epidemic in Haiti has highlighted the international community's historic lack of attention to water and sanitation. Water and sanitation coverage in Haiti has stagnated for decades and is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere, far behind the average of other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
During a recent visit to Lebanon, walking along Hamra Street, I was taken back to my childhood. My father and I meandered down this road en route to my favorite spot. Constantly stopped by friends, eager to talk, it seemed to take forever to reach the Modca Cafe, and the ice cream I so eagerly anticipated.
This is a crisis that is so vast, with needs so great, with potential consequences so dire, that no country can afford to stand on the sidelines. A few are doing a lot. But a lot are doing very little, or nothing at all. It is well past time to join what is a historic, groundbreaking, lifesaving mission -- a noble mission.
Various agencies designed to deal with such emergencies were already being stretched before Ebola struck. Equally frustrating is the fact that this crisis graphically demonstrates how the lack of reliable communication today is a matter of life and death, but communication infrastructure lags behind human need.
In the world of venture capital, a success rate of 30 percent is considered a great track record. In the world of international development, critics hold up every misstep as proof that aid is like throwing money down a rat hole. When you're trying to do something as hard as fighting poverty and disease, you will never achieve anything meaningful if you're afraid to make mistakes.