When the earthquake hit Haiti and news organizations began reporting on the charities responding, we at Charity Navigator were surprised that so many news outlets were recommending donors give to Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation. Yes, a celebrity founded the charity, but does that automatically make it worthy of your support? This charity is a relatively new organization and it has no experience dealing with a disaster of this magnitude. As we say in our tips, charities that haven’t done this type of work before, even those with the best intentions, will have a hard time providing efficient and effective aid. We’re not the only skeptics of this group as New York Times Philanthropy reporter Stephanie Strom points out in her article about Yele Haiti.
After the Haiti earthquake last month, we immediately began posting tips to help donors avoid scams. We knew from Hurricane Katrina that whenever there is a massive outpouring of generosity, there is also an outpouring of scam artists who attempt to steal well-meaning donors’ identity and money. USA Today’s Peter Eisler reports that the FBI has already received 170 complaints about Haiti fundraising scams. His article includes several warnings that all donors need to keep in mind.