FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions
Who are you and why did you decide to fundraise for Bangladesh?

We are a diverse, multinational group of individuals with a special place in our hearts for Bangladesh. Our team of volunteers includes Americans, Bangladeshis, Chinese, and Indians, but we expect to grow further and welcome anyone interested to join us. This is a mainly student-organized initiative, but other members of the team come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, including college professors, a realtor, an airline pilot, and a peace corps volunteer. Most of us have been to Bangladesh, and we understand the devastating public health and economic impact that Covid-19 is having there.

The Nourish Bangladesh initiative is guided by Faress Bhuiyan, a professor of economics at Carleton College, Minnesota. He is joined by a group of his students who have previously participated in an off-campus winter program in Bangladesh as part of their studies. Learning about the economics of development, particularly in the context of Bangladesh, the group has been eager to raise awareness about the country’s experience and actively contribute to the well-being of its people.

We now feel an urgent calling in the wake of Covid-19, as the pandemic wreaks havoc in the lives of many Bangladeshis. We share a deep concern about the looming humanitarian disaster. Our mission is to help ensure that the poorest families have access to food in the coming months. To do so, we are organizing a fundraising campaign and directing the funds to thoroughly vetted established NGOs and grassroots volunteer groups in Bangladesh.

Is this project affiliated with Carleton College?

Nourish Bangladesh is NOT affiliated with Carleton College. Although this campaign started with a number of students and a professor from Carleton College, it has now grown to include non-Carleton volunteers and the college is neither officially nor unofficially backing this website.

 

Does Nourish Bangladesh do anything else besides fundraising?

Our two main priorities are vetting and fundraisingWe are not an NGO doing work in Bangladesh ourselvesBut we are familiar with those who do, and we have done the research so that you don’t have to. We then help you to direct your contributions to the right place.

Why is it necessary to vet the NGOs and volunteer groups?

We know that donors often find it difficult to decide who to trust with their donations, especially when sending money to a country far away and with well-documented cases of widespread corruption and fraud. Donating to established NGOs may not always be ideal, given the large overhead costs these institutions may incur. In other words, donors rightly worry that a significant fraction (upwards of 30% even) of their donation may never reach the benefactors.

On the other hand, trusting grassroots volunteer groups can be difficult without verifiable accounts of their activities on the ground, since they are not registered institutions (e.g. a registered NGO) and do not have a significant footprint on the web or other media. Although bred from good intentions, some inexperienced volunteer initiatives may also have a difficult time optimizing how much to spend on food relief for each household and what to include in a relief package.

There are real trade-offs here, as spending more than the optimal amounts of funds to help one household can come at the expense of less funds available for other households, something that is very important to keep in mind when funds are limited as is the case in BangladeshThen there is also the question of targeted relief: are the recipients geographically distributed to areas that have the highest needs, or is it simply based on regions that the institution has prior experience with?

Why use GoFundMe?

GoFundMe is a for-profit social platform that allows people to collect money in a transparent way. We use it to collect our fundraised money and keep the numbers transparent. However, GoFundMe does charge a 2.9% service fee. If you are donating a large amount and would want to avoid a third-party platform, you could get in touch with us for more direct options to do so.

What is the difference between tax-deducible and non tax-deductible donation options?

Non-governmental Organizations that are registered for 501(3)(c) with the Internal Revenue Services in the United States can offer tax deductions to the donors i.e. you can use this donation as a tax deduction when filing for taxes. Usually, bigger NGOs are registered while the smaller ones and grassroots volunteer groups are not – it requires considerable money, effort, and time to do so, and especially under the current circumstances, it can be hard for them to register for the 501(3)(c). Click on Donate for a detailed comparison between the two options.

How can my organization or I help?

We appreciate all the help that we can get  whether it be donation, fundraising on our behalf, joining our volunteer team, or giving us feedback. For more information see Ways to Help.

Does Nourish Bangladesh have any long term vision?

Our longer term vision is to simplify fundraising initiatives for international students and grassroots fundraisers like ourselves who are interested in helping a foreign country (perhaps their country of origin) with disaster relief. 

To this end, we will record, generate, and make public documents, blogs, and vlogs about best practices, lessons learned, and resources available for fundraising. We know that individuals who are far away from a place they care about can find it difficult to fundraise efficiently and send it to the right actors when a disaster strikes. Organizing initiatives requires time and effort that can make a project turnaround difficult if not impossible. So, we hope to advise nascent fundraisers about the best possible ways to fundraise and then effectively disburse the funds to help mitigate the sufferings they wish to address. Currently, we do not have plans for future fundraising endeavours beyond this initiative; instead we would like to help others with similar projects elsewhere, and provide guidance on how to raise funds legitimately and efficiently.

Does Nourish Bangladesh operate in any other country besides USA?

Currently, we are only operating in USA, the UK, and Canada. However, our campaign is very easily transferrable to other countries and we would be happy to help anyone interested in replicating our project elsewhere. Interested parties should get in touch with nourishbangladesh.us@gmail.com

May I fundraise on behalf of Nourish Bangladesh?

Of course! It’s not as hard as it sounds! Spread the words, talk to your families and friends who might also be interested, and see if you can get three donations, any amounts. While sharing our website on your social media definitely helps, sometimes it’s the personal reaching out to others and explaining what we do that makes the difference. If you want to fundraise on our behalf and would like to understand in more details what it is that we do, please send us an email at nourishbangladesh.us@gmail.com

May I volunteer for Nourish Bangladesh?

We currently have a core team of 11 working volunteers. We understand that during these trying times, it is difficult to guarantee that we can all continue to put in a pre-committed amount of hours towards this campaign. So we have a no-pressure “voluntarily volunteering” policy. Volunteers help with web designing, upkeep, generating content, fundraising activities, vetting the NGOs and volunteer groups, getting leads on new NGOs and volunteer groups to vet, come up with new ideas, offer pictures they have taken to populate our website, design our logo, and etc. Some are volunteering officially while others just help out occasionally without joining the team as they have to attend to other priorities. 

We welcome any kind of constructive feedback. If you would like to share advice or volunteer for our group, please get in touch with us via nourishbangladesh.us@gmail.com. There's no need to be formal, and no need to write a long email. This process is not an interview. If you want to help, we could use the help and we are thankful. One thing to keep in mind, we do not have any labeled positions within our organization such as  president, treasurer, and etc. Everybody on the team is a volunteer member, and there is no internal hierarchical structure at Nourish Bangladesh. At this point we are a like-minded group who are helping each other out and we would like to keep it that way. 

What is the portfolio and why should I consider donating to it?

The Portfolio is a list of NGOs and grassroots volunteer groups that have been vetted by Nourish Bangladesh. It includes both types of NGOs: those that offer tax deductions in the US and those that do not. It also includes local grassroots volunteer groups that spontaneously come together during disasters to fundraise and help those in need. Volunteer groups are usually convened and led by a team leader and as such are not registered with the government in Bangladesh or the USA. They often work as an independent unit but sometimes work as contractors for established NGOs. Most successful volunteer groups in Bangladesh, also more likely to be vetted by us, have a history of helping out during disasters – coming together during disasters and disbanding afterwards. The volunteers are a diverse mixture of youth and adults from different occupations. They tend to have very little overhead costs compared to established NGOs, although it is usually not zero as you have to account for transportation costs and such.

Which NGOs and volunteer groups make up the Portfolio?

The list is not set and it continues to grow. Currently, we are in the process of vetting the following institutions and volunteer groups:

NGOs without 501(c)(3) status: Bidyanondo, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Al Zahoor Welfare Foundation
NGOs with 501(c)(3) status: BRAC USA Inc., JAAGO Foundation Inc., B Desh Foundation Inc., Action Against Poverty
Volunteer Groups (led by): Azdani Nefertity Bari, A J Salim, Mithun Kabbo Das

Why invest in the Portfolio instead of the best NGO and/or Volunteer Group?

Our research suggests that there is no such thing as the best NGO or volunteer group. Trust that we have a healthy appetite for generating quantitative scales that reduces multidimensional measures into a single rank ordered scale. But we strongly believe that such an attempt would be misguided. Every rank reducing algorithm has certain assumptions about reducibility which we are quite certain does not apply here. In simple terms, we believe that all NGOs and volunteers have their strengths and weaknesses. Based on our preliminary research, we have reached the conclusion that given our objective of fighting hunger amidst the COVID19 pandemic, bigger NGOs tend to be low risk, low pay-off options while the smaller NGOs and grassroot volunteer groups tend to be higher risk, higher pay-off options. Thus, after vetting each organization, we intend to split your donations between the different NGOs and grassroots volunteer groups. 

Why not include only 501(3)(c) NGOs in the Portfolio?

Most grassroots volunteer groups in Bangladesh, as well as a number of highly recommended NGOs, are unable to offer tax deductions since they do not have a registered 501(3)(c) status in the US. However, these groups are doing a lot of good work, often more effectively and reaching populations that other NGOs might miss. We therefore strongly feel against excluding groups that do not have 501(3)(c) status. Additionally, NGOs without 501(3)(c) status and volunteer groups often have very low overhead costs, which most registered 501(3)(c) NGOs are unable to achieve.

How is Covid-19 affecting Bangladesh?

To understand the impact that Covid-19 is having on Bangladesh, it is important to recognize that Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated places in the world. The country is only about the size of Iowa, but it has a population of 160 million people. 

Bangladesh has long struggled with poverty, making it extremely susceptible to infectious disease. The country’s public health system has only 432 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for the entire population, with an additional 737 beds in private hospitals. Distribution is also uneven, as nearly 70% of these are in the Dhaka division.

 

As of May 31, 2020, Bangladesh reported 47,153 confirmed cases of Covid-19 within its borders and 650 deaths from the disease. The available data is likely very incomplete due to relatively low rates of testing.

More than the disease itself, however, the broader impacts of the pandemic have been particularly severe in Bangladesh. The economic situation was already precarious for a lot of people: only 15% of the country’s population make over $6 a day, and 87% of work is limited to the informal sector. 

Many in Bangladesh were already unable to feed their families, and the sudden and sharp drop in economic activity leaves millions more without enough income to feed their families.

What is the timeline for vetting and disbursing funds?

We officially began fundraising in USA from June 1st, 2020. Any donations made to the vetted tax-deductible NGOs are periodically passed on to the NGOs by the GoFundme page. 

With regards to the Portfolio, our plan is to disburse funds collected in a month by the end of the end of that month. We pool our fund across all chapters of Nourish Bangladesh (e.g. US, UK, Canada) and split the money between our vetted organizations after a rigorous discussion about what would be the best use of our funds. During our first funding cycle for the month of June, 2020, we funded 5 NGOs and 3 volunteer groups.

How much tip should I pay to GoFundMe page?

Any tips that you pay GoFundMe does not help our campaign directly. So we do not particularly encourage or discourage donating to GoFundMe. 

What is Nourish Bangladesh's overhead cost?

Currently, it is zero and we intend to keep it that way. Our web is being hosted by a volunteer who has his own domain and has graciously agreed to help with the webpage without asking for a single dime. The students and everyone else on the team are volunteering for free.

Do you have the provision of matching dollars?

Yes, we do. If you want to use your funds towards matching dollars, please get in touch with us at nourishbangladesh.us@gmail.com or call us at (612) 520-1054.