5 Charity Giving Tips, Haiti Version

5 Charity Giving Tips, Haiti Version


So many of us have been stunned and deeply saddened as a result of a powerful earthquake that rocked the Caribbean nation of Haiti earlier this week. Hundreds of thousands of people are dead, many more injured, and a significant number of homes have been destroyed.

Haiti will take many years to recover, but given that the country is already deeply impoverished, what will recovery look like?

Haiti earthquake reliefAs expected, massive amounts of aid is pouring into Haiti, with the United States government and other nations bringing in heavy equipment in a bid to free people trapped in the rubble and stabilize buildings. People from all across the world are giving to numerous charities who immediately set up donation links on their websites, hoping that you and I will be moved to take the appropriate action.

But before you click on that link or respond to a tweet calling for your donation, consider the following points first. You want your money to go where they say it will be sent, not to some nobody operating a website in a country far removed from the action, with plans on pocketing your donation for himself:

1. Know the Organization – With organizations small and large asking for donations, to whom should you contribute? That answer is the most sensible: the ones you know. American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Oxfam, Samaritan’s Purse, Mercy Corps, and others are most well known and are likely to do the most good. If your church or religious organization has a relief effort in place, then also consider giving to them.

2. Tax Deductible Donations – Giving to organizations recognized by the IRS as 501(c)(3) organizations not only allows you deduct your gift, but provides a way to ensure that their work is legitimate.

3. What About Overhead? – If you are not sure about the organization and want to know how much of your funds will go toward Haiti earthquake relief, then ask. Most charities forward at least 80 percent of donated funds to where the help is needed, with the remaining monies used for administrative purposes and fund-raising. During a disaster, some organizations stress that they’ll forward 100 percent of your donation, tapping other sources to fund their operation.

4. Work to be Done – Even legitimate charities sometimes miss the mark. For example, if you do not designate “Haiti earthquake relief” on your donation to select charities, then your funds may not help the people you want to see helped. The charity will use your donation, but it may not be directed to Haiti.

5. Consider Volunteering – If you are short on funds or prefer to help out in person, why not volunteer to help out with the relief effort? You will need a passport, but if you have some sort of specialized training (medical, for example) then contact organizations who might need your help. Get all the shots you need in advance, power up your cell phone, bring along some supplies, and go.

Lastly, if you have airline miles you want to donate to organizations providing relief in Haiti or elsewhere, the consider the United Airlines Mileage Plus Charity Miles Program as another way to help out.


MSNBC.com: Tips For Charitable Giving

Charity Navigator: Giving Tips


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Categories: Consumer Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".