|Posted:||1/13/10; 3:23:38 PM|
|Topic:||Better donations for Haiti disaster relief [updated X3]|
|Msg #:||2048 (top msg in thread)|
Update 3: The situation about where donated money is directed with the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders has reversed itself, as explained in this separate update. I’m leaving the DWB links in this post due to the ARC’s long history of misdirecting donations, but noting that Doctors Without Borders now explicitly states that donations are to an “emergency relief fund” that may be spent in Haiti or elsewhere.
Update 2: I donated $20 to Doctors Without Borders. I can’t really afford it, but they can’t afford it more. Please help with the relief.
Long-time readers may remember my exhortations to avoid donating to the American Red Cross, because they are a profit-making organization that still has very little accountability. Their URL for Haiti donations, http://american.redcross.org/supporthaiti (you can cut and paste if you want it), goes to a page that donates not to a Haiti relief fund, but to the ARC’s general “International Response Fund.” They may use the money in Haiti, they may use it somewhere else, or they may bank it or spend it on office equipment like they did with 9/11 disaster funds.
After that controversy, they’ve at least been smart enough to make the small text on this donation page clearer:
If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation by mailing your donation with the designation to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or to your local American Red Cross chapter.
So not only is the minimum donation $10, you also cannot donate online and have it reserved for use in Haiti relief efforts. You must either mail your check or drop it off in person at a Red Cross chapter to force them to use it in Haiti, or for that matter, to use it at all.
As with Hurricane Katrina, though, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has already started a Haiti-specific fund to which you can make secure online donations. They also link to a donation form for Church World Service specifically to “help the people affected by [the Haiti earthquake] as Church World Service works ot provide life-saving supplies now and essential assistance as they rebuild.” The bottom of that page lists CWS’s charitable credentials as one of “America’s Most Efficient Charities.”
Unlike the Katrina situation, this fund is not segregated from assistances to Presbyterian (or, presumably, other denominational) churches in Haiti, at least as I write this. However, I don’t think there’s much of a significant Presbyterian presence in Haiti anyway, so it’s not like there’s a lot of church to rebuild. The Quixote Center is not affiliated with any church or denomination, works on the ground in Haiti, and is dedicated to social justice; they also are soliciting Haiti-specific relief donations.
All of these are, IMHO, better donation options than the American Red Cross, who freely admits that donations made on their page may not be spent in Haiti or spent at all—and history shows that if they’re not forced to spend disaster relief donations on a specific disaster, they keep it for their own projects.
The American Red Cross paid its CEO $565,000 during the last reported year, and requires you to opt-out if you don’t want it sharing or selling your contact information. The Quixote Center doesn’t list the president’s salary, but the co-directors all got salaries of under $40,000 for the last reported year, and also requires opt-out.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is not listed at all, but the church says that “The total for salaries, benefits, administration, information and interpretation represents just 4% of the PDA budget,” and promises that at least 95% of designated funds will be used to help those in need, with the rest going to “cover shared administrative costs associated with the processing and distribution of your gift.” (Keep in mind that credit card fees eat up at least 2.5% of the donation before PDA ever sees it.) I can’t find information about an opt-out policy, but after a donation several years ago, I can tell you they’re still pretty good about staying in touch via US mail.
Do help if you can, but try to give it to a charity that is on the record as actually using your gift for the purpose you intend. That ain’t the American Red Cross.
Update: Nobel-laureate humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders lost all three of its Haitian hospitals in the earthquake. They are on the ground in Haiti, setting up clinics, and are accepting directed donations for Haitian disaster relief. They’re also very open with their financial information if you want to give it a look-see.
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