Donate for Haiti – With Care

The 7.0 earthquake that rocked Haiti on Jan 12th has left all of us reeling. All of us want to help in any way we can. Before you rush out to make donations either in cash or in kind, please keep in mind a few things below:

  • Know the organization you are donating to: It is very important that you understand where your money is going. If you are particular about your money going to Haiti and Haiti alone, then consider donating to a Haiti-based organization (like Yele). However, realize that the odds are that the sum total of the money that is going to be donated will probably exceed what is necessary urgently, and so although your intention was for the money to go to Haiti, if you are ok with the funds being diverted to another humanitarian effort, then consider donating to globally operating organizations like the ones listed in Charity Navigator. Regardless of the type of charity you choose, ensure that they are in a position to make good use of your donations, ensure that they understand what the situation on the ground demands and that they are up to those demands.
  • Do not donate to Haitian government: To the best of my knowledge, the government is no longer functioning, and even if it is, it is one of the most corrupt organizations you can donate to.
  • Can you pay half now, half later?: Like I mentioned earlier, the knee jerk reaction of people is to donate to help in disaster relief. In fact, various countries and corporations are pouring vast sums of money into the disaster relief. But disaster relief is only half the battle for the people from Haiti. After relief has come in, and the earthquake and its immediate aftermath has passed, Haitians have to start the long painful process of rebuilding their lives and their nation. Where is the money for that going to come from? Not from the other countries, and definitely not from the corporations, its going to be from you, through your donations! So keep some money aside to donate for the rebuilding efforts. Haiti will need the money in a few months from now and lots of it. Let the big corporations and rich countries bear a large portion of the burden of disaster relief because they are willing and able to do so. You will have to bear the burden of rebuilding the nation because the rich countries and corporations are unwilling to.
  • Avoid donating in kind (prefer donations in cash): It is tempting to donate in kind because cash can be misused and swindled, but food and clothing less so and is more likely to reach the victims. However, realize that the food you get at your local super market and/or grocery store is not necessarily what can be consumed by the victims of the disaster. Our food relies on a fairly robust infrastructure to survive transportation and storage. Remember that Haiti currently has no such infrastructure to speak of. Also, the cuisine we eat at home is not necessarily what is eaten by Haitians. As far as clothing goes: again, the clothing that you get locally is suitable for the weather, climate, and surroundings in your area, not necessarily useful in Haiti. So when donating, please avoid donating in kind, consider donating in cash.
  • Do not donate with ‘strings attached’: In a situation as volatile as the Haiti earthquake, it is very difficult to determine what each component of disaster relief is going to cost, so it is very important for the volunteers/relief specialists on the ground to have the discretion to spend as the need arises. Please keep that in mind while donating. Please don’t donate for your money to be spent on (say) orphanages alone, or hospitals alone. This severely constrains the effectiveness of your donated funds.
  • Do not donate too little to too many: This is donation for a disaster, its not your investment portfolio. For your donation to be effective choose a few organizations and donate the largest amount you can to those charities. This will ensure that your funds have a greater impact on both the ground, and the longevity of the organizations themselves.
  • Donate now and donate often: Do this for two primary reasons: (a) Victims will need a lot of help in the years to come, please be there for them then, like you are there for them now, and (b) the organizations that are providing relief right now need to stay solvent and functioning to be an effective aid group, and the only way they can be that is through your support and donations.

There are just some of things you need to take care of when donating to disaster relief. For more info, go to Saundra Schimmelpfennig’s blog.

If you cannot donate large sums, then consider donating via text message: [Source: Haiti earthquake: How to help - Rachel Maddow Show, via Patrix]

Donating via text message:

  • Text HAITI to 90999
    Donates $10
  • Text HAITI to 25383
    International Rescue Committee
    Donates $5
  • Text HAITI to 52000
    Salvation Army
    Donates $10
  • Text YELE to 501501
    Donates $5
  • Text HAITI to 864833
    The United Way
    Donates $5
  • Text CERF to 90999
    The United Nations Foundation
    Donates $5
  • Text DISASTER to 90999
    Compassion International
  • Text HAITI to 20222
    The Clinton Foundation
    Donates $10

The donated amount will be charged to your cell phone bill.

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