Friday, January 29, 2010
Fight Fraud Taskforce & the Center for International Disaster Information Recommend Charity Navigator for Reputable Haiti Help
Charity Navigator is also recommended by the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI), an organization funded by the United States Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. CIDI provides individuals, groups, embassies and corporations with information and guidance in support of appropriate international disaster relief efforts. CIDI encourages Nevadans who wish to help victims of the Haiti earthquake to donate cash.
“Nevadans can help the most by donating cash to an established relief agency,” says Suzanne H. Brooks, Director of CIDI. “Cash donations can be used to buy the supplies and emergency items needed on the ground, without the delay of collecting, packing, shipping and distributing in-kind items, which may be inappropriate for the victims in Haiti.”
You can learn more about CIDI and how to best help victims of international disasters on their site. And visit Nevada Fight Fraud Taskforce's site for more information on how to protect yourself from all kinds of consumer scams.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Thankfully, after the Tsunami and Katrina everyone was pleasantly surprised at the level of giving in America. The data showed that donors continued to support other charities. In fact, it appears that the devastation caused by Katrina inspired Americans to support charities that help the poor in their own communities. As a result, giving to human services charities actually increased more than 11% (excluding for disaster related gifts) from 2004 to 2005. This is tremendous because the percentage of giving directed to such charities has historically been low as compared to other types of nonprofits (such as religious and education charities).
But, that was then and this is now. And now we’re in a recession. Giving to charities was down 5.7% from 2007 to 2008 --- the biggest decline in giving in 50+ years of tracking such data. And many in the sector are predicting that donations will be down again this year. Many would even say that charities helping the poor are struggling the most! These charities could really use a bump in giving like they saw in 2005. But given the state of the economy and how much donors are giving to Haiti, we very well may be talking about donor fatigue in the months to come.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Will you be watching? Seems impossible not to as it will air on 25 networks! But more importantly, will it inspire you to give if you haven't already given? And if you already gave to the Haiti relief efforts, do you plan to give again tonight while watching the telethon? Take our survey and let us know. Then check out how your plans compare with others.
Thank you Zoomerang for giving us free access to your survey tool!
A law suit filed by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo against four telemarketers accuses the companies of deceiving the donors they were contacting, in addition to not being forthcoming about the fees they received for their telemarketing services. The four organizations in question kept an average of 76% of funds raised, meaning only 24% of each donation made it to the charity.
It is important to note that the lawsuit was brought after complaints from concerned donors, so we urge you to be proactive, and file a complaint with your state Attorney General’s office if you feel you are dealing with harassment or deceit from a professional fundraising organization. As always, if a professional fundraiser calls you, we suggest you ask for information in writing, and if you wish to support the cause, donate to the organization directly, bypassing the telemarketer all together.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
On Tuesday, we posted a survey on Zoomerang to find out how people are donating to charities responding to the Haiti earthquake. Here are the results so far:
1. If you've made a donation to support the Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts, how did you make that donation?
Online - at the charity's own site 50 60%
Online - via Charity Navigator's site 2 2%
Online - via a social networking site like Facebook Causes 0 0%
Text Donation 8 10%
Mailed a Check 10 12%
Over the Phone 2 2%
Other, please specify 12 14%
Total 84 100%
2. If you made a text donation, is this the first time you gave by texting?
Yes 12 57%
No 9 43%
Total 21 100%
3. If you made a text donation, do you think you'll use this method of donating again in the future for disaster related giving?
Yes 13 65%
No 7 35%
Total 20 100%
4. If you made a text donation, do you think you'll use this method of donating again in the future for donations NOT related to disasters (such as your year-end gifts to charities)?
Yes 7 37%
No 12 63%
Total 19 100%
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, donations made to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts has exceeded $305 million. The figures so far show that this pace is faster than the donation response to the Asian Tsunami but slower than the response to hurricane Katrina.
The nonprofit Network for Good that processes online donations
- American Red Cross
- Direct Relief International
- Doctors Without Borders
- Food for the Poor
- Haitian Health Foundation
- Hope for Haiti
- Operation USA
- Partners in Health
- Save the Children
During the interview, Oprah gave him the opportunity to address the concerns that have been raised about his charity, the Yele Haiti Foundation. He admitted that they’ve made some missteps in handling their financial reporting, but was adamant that he hadn’t personally profited in any way shape or form from his work with the group. Oprah spoke about her three foundations (including the highly-rated Oprah's Angel Network) and she acknowledge how important it is to have the best people running the back office so that she can be the face of the charity. She even said that the IRS practically lives at her office. In other words, her celebrity is a double edge sword bringing more awareness to her charitable pursuits, but also more scrutiny.
Personally, I think this is exactly what is needed with Whyclef Jean’s nonprofit. Millions of dollars have poured into his foundation. And Friday’s telethon will direct millions more to Yele Haiti. If you spent just a few minutes watching his interview, then I don’t see how you can dispute that he’s passionate about helping Haiti and that his intentions are honorable. But, again, his group doesn’t have experience dealing with a disaster on this scale. He even pointed out that the situation is a logistical nightmare! So, it is critical, in the months and years to come, for the media and donors to keep an eye on Yele Haiti’s progress and that Wyclef Jean and his staff be extremely transparent and forthcoming about the accomplishments and shortfalls of this charity.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
98% of you that responded to our survey said that you plan to to donate to Haiti earthquake relief efforts. Donors who have already made gifts have supported many of the charities listed on our site including: ActionAid International, ADRA, American Red Cross, Americares, CARE, Compassion International, Convoy of Hope, CRISTA Ministries, Direct Relief International, Doctors Without Borders, Episcopal Relief and Development, Feed My Starving Children, Food for the Poor, Hope for Haiti, International Relief Teams, Mercy Corps, Operations USA, Oxfam, Partners in Health, Samaritan's Purse, United States Fund for UNICEF, William J. Clinton Foundation, World Vision.
Now we've got a follow-up survey to find out how you are giving your donation - are you donating online, via text message or by mail? We look forward to hearing from you! And once you've completed the survey, we hope you'll check out the results.
Thank you Zoomerang for giving us free access to your survey tool!
Monday, January 18, 2010
Each day, based on a particular holiday (like MLK Day) or current event, Charity Navigator’s experts select 4-5 highly-rated charities to highlight. Subscribe to our daily featured charities list now.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
We're getting a lot of questions about Wyclef Jean's charity as several sources are starting to raise questions about it.
First off, we do not yet rate this charity as it currently doesn't meet our criteria. Why? It has only filed three Forms 990 and we require at least 4 to complete a rating.
Second, our team has taken a look at what information is available on this group.
- We find it odd that the charity filed all three 990s (for fiscal years 2005, 2006 and 2007) in August of 2009. Charities are often not especially timely in filing these documents, but this is beyond late.
- According to the group's FYE 2008 audit (the corresponding 990 isn't available at this time) the group spent 69% of its budget on programs. Our research shows that the most efficient charities spend at least 75%.
- Just about all of its program expenses are providing grants to its affiliate organization in Haiti. There is nothing wrong with that, but we really don't know how the group in Haiti spends its money.
- One of our recommendations is that donors stick with charities that have experience in providing aid after major disasters and/or that have a long history of working in Haiti. The group may meet the second criteria, but it doesn't appear to meet the first.
At the end of the day, this charity is going to bring in a ton of money because of its affiliated star power. Already it has raised $1.5 million! It is critical that we all- from the media to nonprofit experts to donors - closely watch how it handles all of these new donations. Will it spend the money on its own programs and services? And does that mean it will help with the medium to long term recovery efforts or will it try to provide immediate aid? Will it simply funnel it to other groups -and if so, will it that diminish how much makes it to other organizations?
For more on celebrities and their charity work, visit our YouTube page.
You can read CNN's take on the story online here.
Friday, January 15, 2010
- 9/11 - "A Tribute to Heroes" - raised approximately $150 million
- Hurricane Katrina - "Shelter from the Storm" - raised approximately $40 million.
- Asian Tsunami - "A Concert of Hope" - raised approximately $18 million.
- 2001 9/11 – Over $2 billion
- 2004 Asian tsunami – Almost $2 billion
- 2005 Hurricane Katrina (also Rita and Wilma) - $6.47 billion
Now the question is will Haiti earthquake relief giving break all previous records for disaster related giving? Probably. Today, The Chronicle of Philanthropy is reporting that more than $73 million has been raised so far. Below are the latest fundraising figures from some of the largest charities responding to this disaster. Many of these charities have said that this level of giving is far greater than anything they’ve seen in the past.
- American Red Cross –$35 million; over $8 million of that came into the Red Cross via text donations
- AmeriCares – more than $1 million
- Catholic Relief Services - $2.5 million in online donations, plus $1 million by phone
- Doctors Without Borders - $1 million just from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
- GlobalGiving - $270,000
- Lutheran World Relief - $375,000 in online donations
- Mercy Corps – more than $3.5 million of which $2.5 million via online donations
- Operation USA - $100,000
- Oxfam America - $4.5 million
- The Salvation Army - $1.65 million
- Save the Children – more than $1.3-million
- World Vision - $700,000 online, plus $100,000 from major donors and $100,000 from corporations
Also, one of the companies that processes online donations, Convio, is reporting that $60 million in donations for Haiti aid. As of this morning, the nonprofit Network for Good that also processes online donations (including on our site) reports that it has processed $1.5 million in donations to the Haiti earthquake relief effort. And the Business Civic Leadership Center says over $27 million in cash and supplies have been donated by 70 of the largest companies in America.
In light of the tremendous devastation in Haiti since the earthquake, overwhelming philanthropic response individual donors and public pressure, American Express, MasterCard and Visa have announced that they too are waiving administrative fees typically associated with credit card donations. This move follows the waiving of fees initiated by text donations processors, as we discussed previously.
The big three have placed some time and organization specific limitations on the waivers: American Express will waive fees until the end of February for donations made to those organizations that are identified on the US Aid website. MasterCard users will have their fees waived if they donate to the Red Cross, UNICEF, Save the Children, or CARE USA. Visa has indicated that it will donate its revenues generated by charitable contributions (through February) to the Red Cross. In addition, Visa has selected 11 eligible organizations that will have donations interchange fees waived during that same time period.
Last year, inspired by by President Obama’s call to service, more than 13,000 projects took place making it the largest effort ever in the 14 years since Congress encouraged Americans to observe the King Holiday as a national day of service. To help ensure that this year's response is just as great, the Corporation for National and Community Service is promoting the All for Good volunteer search tool (it aggregates volunteer opportunities submitted by other volunteer search engines and other organizations).
Charities featured on Charity Navigator, including Hands On Network and Volunteers of America, also list volunteer opportunities on their sites. And our Guide To Volunteering offers lots of advice if you are new to giving your time.
Photo © 2009 Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Public Affairs
Thursday, January 14, 2010
- Your World With Cavuto - On Fox tonight between 4:30 and 5
- WPIX - NY local news tonight at 6 and/or 10
Also, here's a sample of our recent media coverage related to this disaster.
- As Wallets Open For Haiti, Credit Card Companies Take A Big Cut - The Huffington Post
- In urgent times, avoiding online charity scams - CNET News
- Help out Haiti -CNN
How do text donations work? A charitable organization registers with a donations processor, who in turn cooperates with the cell phone providers to add the agreed up set donation amount to the users’ cell phone bill. The popularity of text donations has increased rapidly over the past few years. From $200,000 in response to the Tsunami (December 2004), to $400,000 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (August 2005), to an astonishing $3 million in the first full day since text donations have been set up to aid victims in Haiti. The American Red Cross has already raised close to $4 million, a substantial amount of that total coming in via text donations.
We have received many inquiries from concerned donors about this practice, and have some more information for you. First, we found out via this excellent article on the topic by Richard Mullins of the Tampa Tribune that several text donations processors (MGive for example) are waiving the administrative fees that they typically charge. However, you may want to double check this with the charity of your choice before pushing the ‘send’ button.
Second, as with all your donations, please make sure you have done your research. While it may be a very convenient and efficient way to donate a small amount of money, you still need to feel confident that you are supporting a charity you believe is legitimately impacting the situation in Haiti. Of course, you can always check out Charity Navigator’s list of vetted organizations, or donate to one of the following Charity Navigator rated charities:
- Text "Haiti" to 20222 to donate $10 on behalf of The Clinton Foundation (former President Clinton is Special Envoy to Haiti) – 4stars
- Text "Haiti" to 25383 to donate $5 on behalf of the Internal Rescue Committee. – 4stars
- Text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 on behalf of the Red Cross in the U.S.- 3stars
So, should you drop your online or mail donation for a text donation? It depends. Phone carriers may have a maximum limit that you can donate on a monthly basis, so if you are in a position to donate more than $20 - $25 at this point, you may be better of donating via a reputable organization’s website (or donate directly to that organization via our website). While processing fees for online donations have not been waived at this point, a larger donation may offset the associated fees that come with any donation.
Avoid Newly-Formed Charities and Give To An Established Charity That Has Worked In Haiti - Establishing a new charity is hard enough, but in a crisis, the odds of succeeding are slim to none. Think of it this way: would you entrust all your savings in a financial firm that just opened, doesn't even have stationery, and whose employees have no experience in investing money? Doubtful. Find a charity with a proven track record of success in providing disaster relief and one that has worked in Haiti. Start with the list of charities provided on Charity Navigator and if a group you are considering supporting isn’t there, then take the time to thoroughly research it before making a gift.
Do Not Give To The Haiti Government – Haiti is known to be a corrupt country. And news reports post earthquake indicate that the government is pretty much not functioning. If that isn’t enough reason not to give directly to the Haiti government, then consider the fact that contributions to foreign governments are not tax deductible.
Designate Your Investment – Generally, it is best to trust your chosen charity to spend your donation as it sees fit. But with disaster related giving, you should specify that you want your donation only used to respond to this particular crisis.
Do Not Send Supplies – Knowing that millions of people are desperately in need of food and water, it is hard not to want to pack up a box of supplies and send it to Haiti. But this type of philanthropy is simply not practical or efficient. Even if mail could get to Haiti, no one is set up to receive these goods, much less organize and distribute them to the victims. Furthermore, charities are often able to partner with companies to acquire large amounts of in-kind donations such as bottled water and new clothing. Instead of boxing up and sending your old clothing, have a garage sale and turn your used goods into cash and donate that to a worthy charity.
Be Careful Of Email Solicitations
- Be Leery Of People That Contact You Online Claiming To Be A Victim – Unless you personally know someone in Haiti, anyone alleging to be in this position is most likely part of a scam. Obviously, people affected by the earthquake are in no position to contact you directly for assistance.
- Delete Unsolicited Emails With Attachments - Never respond to unsolicited emails. Do not open any attachments to these emails even if they claim to contain pictures from Haiti. These attachments are probably viruses.
Seek Out The Charity’s Authorized Website – Refer to our blog from yesterday as to why this is important.
Consider The Nature Of The Charity’s Work – Not every charity is responding in the same way. Some are providing medical assistance, some shelter, some food and water. Others will be more focused on either short term or long term rebuilding efforts. And some are just helping to fundraise for other nonprofits. Think about what it is you want your philanthropic investment to accomplish and then take the time to find the charities doing that work. At Charity Navigator we link to each charity’s website so that you can quickly learn more about their plans to help in Haiti.
Be Inspired By Social Media, But Still Do Your Homework – Social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs are delivering heart-wrenching images and information about Haiti to our computers and phones. Many of them include pleas to donate. While these tools can be a powerful tool to inspire your desire to help, you should not blindly give via these vehicles. You must take the time to investigate the groups behind such pleas for help to ensure that it comes from a legitimate nonprofit. For example, you can donate $10 to the American Red Cross by texting “Haiti” to 90999. As of today, this tool has raised $3 million for the Haiti earthquake relief efforts.
Avoid Telemarketers – As always, hang up the phone do your homework and give directly to a charity.
Do Not Expect Immediate Results, But Do Keep Tabs On What Your Donation Accomplishes- It takes time for charities to mobilize, to assess the problems that need to be addressed and to develop effective solutions. Donors need to be patient so charities will not feel pressured to plunge in and offer ineffective aid, simply to placate impatient donors. That doesn't mean donors shouldn't hold the charities accountable for delivering on their promises! Be sure to follow up with the charity in a few months to find out (a) how your donation was put to use and (b) if the organization needs additional support to complete the recovery effort.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
For example, even before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, criminals were setting up websites that included the keyword Katrina (such as www.katrinahelp.com and www.katrinarelief.com) in an effort to collect money and personal information. In the weeks following the devastating storm, the FBI reported that it had identified over 4,000 bogus websites that were attempting to capitalize on the goodwill of generous Americans.
While we have no official word that the following websites are not legitimate, we do wonder about the fact that the domain names were registered today, not even one full day after the earthquake:
While we understand that people are driven to help victims of the Haiti earthquake, we strongly suggest that you do your due diligence and make sure that the organizations asking for your support are legitimate. Of course, one way to do so is by checking to see if the organizations have been vetted by Charity Navigator’s analyst team, and are in fact providing relief in the stricken area. Our evolving list of organizations doing just that can be found by clicking here.
"The good news is that myself and my team are fine. The bad news is we don't have supplies or ability to move in a city nearly completely destroyed.
The city has been heavily damaged, most destroyed from what we can tell. The MINUSTAH [UN peacekeeping mission] headquarters was destroyed so there is no coordination. We have no supplies for medical here but are treating a few people who we can and wtin for aftershocks. The city has no infrastructure for health care, no security forces, all roads are full of debris and falled walls and electricity. My hotel has totally collapsed, Schools, Parliment, Presidents house, judicial palace, all collapsed. So nothing on the ground to support relief and we are concerned about reaction in several days.
Help is greatly needed."
So far those of you who have taken our survey have overwhelmingly indicated your desire to help. As for which charities you plan to support, most are still deciding. Those that have made donations gave to CARE, Mercy Corps, Red Cross, Operation USA, UNICEF, International Relief Teams, Direct Relief International and Doctors Without Boarders. You can learn about these charities and others offering aid on our site.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
For a full list of highly rated organizations that we have verified to be assisting in the relief efforts, please visit our hot topic area: Help the Victims of the Haiti Earthquake.
An extended list of charities working in Haiti and reviewed by Charity Navigator can be found on our site by accessing our Interactive World Map.
Thank you Zoomerang for giving us free access to your survey tool!
Monday, January 11, 2010
- Only 1 in 10 new nonprofit website visitors register (at least share their email address)
- Online fundraising has already hit nearly $1 billion dollars
To answer this question, Ms. Sargent made use of Charity Navigator's advanced search tool to develop a list of charities to target. Then she started visiting each of their sites and attempting to sign up for their newsletters and other email communications.
She's releasing her findings in two reports. The first examines the sign-up process and the second looks at what happens after a donor signs up. Here are some of the findings included in her first report:
- 1 out of 10 charities offered no email sign up on their homepage
- Most subscription boxes were hard to locate
- Many of the charities asked for too much or too little information
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
- Determine what causes are most important to you and your family.
- Develop a list of charities engaged in that type of work.
- Then take that list and check each charity for evidence of questionable ethical practices. Visit their websites to see if they are committed to transparency by checking for their financial data, Board list and so on. Be sure to also check Charity Navigator’s News Feed tab for reports of problems.
- Next, check each of the few charities left on your list to see if they can offer you an evidence of their impact. You can do this by visiting their website and/or by talking with the staff. You want to learn about the quality and depth of the charity's results as well as their capacity to continue to get these results in the future.
- Finally, map out a plan and budget for the year and let each of the few organizations you've chosen know your intentions. Knowing your plan helps a charity keep its fundraising expenses at a minimum while focusing on the programs you intended to support in the first place.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
- Lose Weight
- Manage Debt
- Save Money
- Get a Better Job
- Quit Smoking