Devastation and Inspiration in Haiti

Six days after the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti, we are seeing troubling images of the extent of the tragedy and the magnitude of the suffering now unfolding.

We are also seeing an inspiring outpouring of support from people in the United States and around the world. Ordinary citizens are texting their support to the Red Cross and other organizations to ensure that there are enough funds for relief efforts. An amazing amount of money already has been collected. This is the time to come together and work in a coordinated fashion to support the relief efforts and ensure that the donated funds are put to the best use for the people of Haiti, both in the short-term and in the long run.

It is very heartening to see Presidents Bush and Clinton joining forces to coordinate the fundraising work. This will be a long-term effort and additional resources will be required once the immediate relief work is completed, to support recovery and reconstruction efforts. Money is the most important support we can all provide right now.

I have heard from many friends and colleagues seeking advice on how they can help and where they should send contributions. There are many agencies that have a strong on-the-ground presence in Haiti, and supporting them is the best approach. has a list of relief organizations to consider supporting. Unfortunately, many scams are already being set up to take advantage of people's generosity, so please use caution and work with established agencies.

This is not the right time to empty your basement or closets to send clothes or unused materials to Haiti. It is important to leave this to professionals and the various development agencies on the ground, who will procure the most needed items from both international and local sources.

At Microsoft we are heartened to see our employees step up and support the relief efforts. To date, we have over 2,200 employees who have donated to over 120 organizations working in Haiti, contributing over $410,000, which Microsoft will match. In addition, as a company we have made an initial commitment of $1.25 million in cash and in-kind support.

Our nonprofit partner NetHope is already hard at work on the ground in Haiti, establishing a temporary telecommunications infrastructure that is enabling humanitarian agencies to communicate and speed relief to affected victims.

We are also working with satellite imagery provider, DigitalGlobe, to rapidly publish current imagery of Haiti captured by the company's Quickbird and WordView II satellite sensors. Our hope is that the imagery will help people across the world better understand the location and extent of the catastrophe, as well as prove useful to those coordinating relief efforts.

Once again we thank our employees, customers and partners for their concern and support. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will update you as we learn more about ways we can all aid the people of Haiti.

Cross posted from the Microsoft on the Issues blog.