Last night a powerful earthquake shook Haiti and devastated much of that impoverished island nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince. It goes without saying that our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected by this disaster.
As always, donors in this country have been quick to offer their help. Here’s how you can give wisely to relief efforts in Haiti:
- Be pro-active, not re-active.
It’s not necessary or wise to respond to every call or request. Instead, follow the steps below to give wisely.
- Determine what kind of relief you want to support.
What are your values and priorities? What matters to you? “Disaster relief” has many faces—emergency housing, provision of potable water, medical assistance, feeding the hungry, sending in search and rescue teams. Decide which one(s) you want to give to.
- Do a little research.
Use a reputable source, such as GuideStar, or one of our partners, such as Network for Good or JustGive, to identify charities doing the work you want to support. All of the charities listed on these sites are legitimate organizations recognized by the IRS, and you can contribute directly from the sites.
If you already have an organization in mind and are familiar with its Web site, you can do your research there. Be careful, however, if you haven’t been to the site before or don’t know the organization well. Con artists often post bogus Web sites and run scam donation campaigns immediately after a disaster. If you aren’t already familiar with a relief organization’s site, protect yourself by linking to it from a trusted site such as GuideStar, Network for Good, or JustGive. Avoid new Web sites and links provided in e-mails.
- Ask questions.
- Does the charity have experience working in disaster relief and in particular Haiti?
Time is of the essence—lives are at risk, so you want to give to organizations that have the ability to get relief where it needs to go quickly and efficiently.
- How does the charity describe its mission and programs? Its accomplishments?
Do the programs support the mission? Does the charity use concrete measurements to evaluate its accomplishments?
- How do people who have firsthand experience with the charity evaluate its services?
Check GuideStar or our partner GreatNonprofits for reviews.
- Consider making another gift in a few weeks or months.
“Disaster relief” is a long-term process, as we’ve seen in the aftermath of the December 26, 2004, tsunamis and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
My colleagues and I hope that these tips will help donors give wisely as well as generously.
The preceding is a guest post Bob Ottenhoff, Chief Executive of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. With an entrepreneurial spirit, strong technology focus, and a quest to make an impact in the world, Bob has the ability to take an organization and lead it into strong performance, sustainability, and industry leadership.