Welcome to Charity Navigator's Blog!

The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

Return to Main Site   |   Find a Charity   |   Receive Email Updates   |   Support Charity Navigator

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tips, Tips And More Tips For Funding Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts

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.

As a 501 (c) (3) organization itself, Charity Navigator depends on public support to help donors make informed choices. Please consider investing in the future of Charity Navigator by making a donation today.  Donate now >>


MsRich said...

Thank you for this. I have forwarded this posting to everyone in my organization.

Derek Locke said...

May I suggest that Rotary International is not forgotten in your recommendations. Rotary has one of your highest ratings and is already mobilizing it's membership of 1.3 million worldwide. Another organization run by Rotarians is Shelter Box. This organization provides boxes with not only tents but supplies that will help a family of 10 people survive for up to 6 months. These boxes have in the last 10 years been shipped all over the world, including the Tsunami areas. Boxes are shipped to and distributed by Rotarians so no corrupt middle men are involved. The cost of a box is $1,000 and you can donate at shelterboxusa.org or shelterbox.org

Rovina Sofiya said...

I am forwarding this to my FaceBook friends who are anxious to donate and want to do the best they can for the people of Haiti.
Thank you for keeping us informed and up to date with this information .

Robina D'Arcy-Fox

Rovina Sofiya said...

Thank you for providing clear and up to date information : I am forwarding this to my friends on FaceBook who want so much to do the right thing for the people of Haiti with the maximum benefit.
Many Blessings for keeping the record straight.

Rovina Sofiya

Peter Golio said...

Felix Salmon offers thoughtful disagreement with your "Designate Your Investment" recommendation, pointing out how severely it ties the hands of charities. It may take literally decades to spend funds earmarked for a specific country (never mind a specific disaster), while other (less publicized) crises are tragically underfunded.
The headline of his post (Don't give money to Haiti) is unfortunate, but the substance and his updates are sensible. The link: http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2010/01/15/dont-give-money-to-haiti/comment-page-1/#comment-11216
Peter Golio

Unknown said...

Thank you for this warning. It is just astounding that there are people taking advantage of an unfortunate event. I guess the same precautions should be applied when donating for New Zealand and Japan quake victims. Opportunists will take every chance they get to fool you if they know that they can get away with it. Minnesota Health Care Programs