Thursday, January 14, 2010

giving to Haiti

I just heard a great program on NPR's Talk Of The Nation about giving to Haiti, with the founder of the American Institute of Philanthropy.

Both traditional and social media are abuzz with various ways to contribute, and reflect heightened emotions of people wanting to help.

Here are some takeaways from the discussion.

Money is the only useful thing right now. It helps buy all the emergency items required to get by while the clean up happens. Any kind of goods will cost a lot in shipping, are not useful right now, might clog up supply/chain for the emergency requirements. Besides, you don't want to send goods even later, but have things sourced locally to support the local economy.

A lot of callers expressed interest in volunteering, but if you are not trained in handling such emergencies, it is better to stay away. They only need experts at the moment.

Most of the help that Haiti needs is not in the next few days, but in the next few months, or even years. Emergency response teams are helping the Haitians clean up. But once that is done, the task of re-building is more challenging and a longer one. The rest of the world must step in then, instead of forgetting it once public shock and recency are no longer factors.

Sending money through cell phones and such is easy and lots of people are doing it. I myself did it yesterday, and asked my Facebook friends to, as well. But know that what you are doing is really pledging money. It is not clear whether your phone company will pass along the money to the charity until you have paid your bill. And then it will take a while for the charity to send this collected money to the intended destination. It is better to send money directly to charity organizations working in Haiti.

Most charity organizations keep a percentage of the money you donate to cover their own costs. Find out the details about the organization you are donating through. It could be as low as 55% or as high as 97%. Also, make sure the organization is using your money for what you intended, and not for other purposes (even if other charitable purposes).

On the show they mentioned as a good resource for charities helping Haiti.

If you know how to send money directly to Haiti, or can endorse a particular charity for Haiti, please leave a comment.

You can also donate to Mercy Corps from your account:

Update: Find that NPR show here: Reliable Ways To Donate Money To Haiti Effort.

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