PayPal APAC’s Typhoon Relief Effort Highlights Speedy Response

eBay Inc. Staff


Three months after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, the PayPal team in Asia Pacific (APAC) has raised U.S. $3.6 million to help victims of the storm, in a major cross-functional effort. The experience also helped lay the groundwork for a disaster relief playbook that will help nonprofits respond faster to help when natural disasters strike.

Haiyan, which struck the coast of the Philippines with 195-mph winds on Nov. 8, killed more than 6,000 people and displaced millions. Known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, it was the deadliest typhoon on record in that country and the strongest storm ever recorded at landfall.

“My first reaction was that I had to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan,” said Audrey Ottevanger, country manager, Malaysia and Philippines. “I felt very responsible as Philippines is one of our focus markets. I knew that we had merchants and buyers that were affected and I had the ability to help them through PayPal.”

The team launched two electronic mail-outs featuring four verified nonprofits to customers in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, and built a website for donations in just six days. Also, the team managed to work with the eBay Foundation to incorporate the Philippines Red Cross and AmCham Foundation into existing efforts to raise funds from U.S. PayPal users. All fees associated with donations were waived for these charities. The end result was that people could donate quickly, painlessly and to a cause they cared passionately about. The PayPal effort also allowed nonprofit organizations such as World Vision to reach out to more than half a million people, well above initial targets.

"Your contribution to World Vision’s relief for Philippines has enabled us to surpass our initial target of assisting 400,000 people to help more than 525,000 victims," World Vision CEO Foo Pek Hong wrote in a thank-you note to Ottevanger.

“Speed to launch a relief campaign is crucial,” Ottevanger said. “We launched the campaign 12 days after the typhoon struck and while it was great that we raised a substantial amount, I believe that we could have raised a lot more if we were able to launch the campaign earlier. This is why we are working on a disaster relief playbook for the region which will enable quicker implementation.”

 “We have learnt that a large portion of ‘retail’ giving in Asia is timed with disaster relief – and identified a need for marketing assets and processes to quickly execute a fundraising campaign,” said Milind Sanghavi, head of New Verticals, APAC. “Our playbook for disaster relief leverages on the lessons learnt from our response to the 2013 Sichuan earthquake. For Typhoon Haiyan, we have expedited the process by targeting key charities and coordinating our efforts with the North America giving efforts as well.”