A London-based organisation has raised more than £6m in three weeks to support emergency relief operations in Beirut.
Impact Lebanon launched the fundraiser on 4 August, hours after the explosion that killed more than 200 people in the city.
It originally set out to raise £10,000, but hit the £1m mark before midnight on the same day. Three weeks later, its fundraising total stands at £6.2m and the organisation is aiming to reach £7.5m.
Impact Lebanon is a London-based nonprofit that brings together people from the Lebanese diaspora to support initiatives on the ground in Lebanon.
The tweet launching the fundraiser has been shared more than 9,500 times, and support has come in from around the world.
On the fundraiser’s JustGiving page, Impact Lebanon said: “As our team at Impact Lebanon was trying to deal with the grief of watching our homeland crumble, we realised that we needed to act quick.
“We launched a fundraiser with the aim of providing some relief to those afflicted by the calamity. The size of the support that we received was higher than we expected. The Lebanese community reaching far and wide and the international community were ready to support so generously in any way possible.”
Donors included Lebanese-British human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and her husband George, who split their $100,000 (about £76,000) donation in support of Lebanon between three organisations – Impact Lebanon, Lebanese Red Cross and Baytna Baytak.
Impact Lebanon is not a registered charity, but was incorporated as a private limited company at the end of 2019, according to its profile on Companies House. This is its first major fundraising effort.
The organisation is now in the process of distributing the funds to local organisations, as it does not have a team on the ground.
Impact Lebanon said it is working to ensure transparency and accountability in its funding distribution while still moving as quickly as possible given the urgency of the situation.
It has partnered with LIFE (Lebanese International Finance Executives) and its charity arm LIFE Generation on the vetting, allocation and distribution of funds. LIFE Generation is a registered charity in the UK and is also present in Lebanon, US, Switzerland and France.
Lebanese organisations need to submit project proposals when applying for the money, as well as being apolitical and non-sectarian, being registered and passing an audit test. Some $690,000 (around £525,000) has been awarded so far to five different organisations, including the Lebanese Red Cross.
Other charities fundraising for Lebanon
Various UK charities with presence on the ground are also fundraising to support their emergency relief efforts, including the British Red Cross, Islamic Relief, Save the Children, CAFOD and Action Aid.
Save the Children's Beirut Emergency Fund appeal has raised £340,000 so far, CAFOD's has raised £275,000 and ActionAid UK’s Beirut appeal has raised around £118,000.
Christine Allen, director at CAFOD, said: “This disaster has happened at a challenging time for Lebanon, as they deal with the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s economic turmoil.
“This explosion threatens to push many who were already suffering further into poverty and hunger. CAFOD remains committed to supporting Lebanon at this difficult time.”