Haiti-Helping Nonprofits Sitting On Funds

If you cut a check to a Haiti aid group after last year’s earthquake disaster, surely you did so with lofty visions that your money would sit in a bank account, doing absolutely nothing for months on end.

NPR reports that’s just what happened to most of the $1.5 billion Americans donated to 60 Haiti-aiding causes last year. The story cites a Chronicle of Philanthropy survey that found the nonprofits have spent less than 40 percent of the funds.

A Red Cross spokesperson says the organization is holding on to its funds in order to spend them effectively.

“The Red Cross has a real commitment to spending those dollars wisely and transparently,” the spokesperson said.

The president of Doctors Without Borders says nonprofits sees things differently, saying “We are indeed accountable to the Haitian people, and I think we have a lot of explaining to do.”

When you’re donating money, what expectations do you have about how the funds will be spent?

Haiti Aid Groups Criticized As Money Sits Unspent [NPR via Fark]

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  1. leprofie says:

    Most of these NGOs will spend the money appropriately. Lutheran World Relief is in it for at least 5 years and the initial rush of funds allows for that long term recovery work. Would you rather see this money wasted in the first few months and then nothing being available for the ongoing needs? This is a non-story as far as I’m concerned.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Given people there still have no homes, have difficult access to food and water, are facing additional epidemics post-quake, and have civil and political unrest in the country, I think they need more aid now.

      Not a non-story at all.

      • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

        So what, you’d prefer it if non-profits just leave piles of money in Port-au-Prince and leave?

        It takes years to build infrastructure. It takes years to build homes. It takes years to rebuild food systems. It takes even longer in a country that was barely functional before a disaster.

        Would it be better to build shanties instead of coordinate the development of longer-term housing? Would it be better to give the poor MREs for a month instead of help develop food systems that might last beyond a month or two?

        Development, and aid beyond the initial shock, is long-term. It’s especially important for these organizations to think long-term given that nobody is going to donate to Haiti now that it’s no longer on the teevee. This money has to be used for years. Not days, weeks, or months. Years.

        • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

          Thank you.

        • Audiyoda28 says:

          This is where the problem lies – Haiti didn’t have an efficient infrastructure in the first place. So on top of dealing with the turmoil caused by the earthquake, the NGOs have to deal with the turmoil of poor leadership within the country and a infrastructure that is 50 or 60 years in the past.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          You purchase manpower with money. Manpower produces housing. Lots of money produces manpower quickly.

          Money also buys food, water, and living supplies. More importantly, money buys mechanism that produce these things, like farm supplies, seeds, builds businesses.

          No one, especially me, said to jump a pile of money in Port-au-Prince and leave. But money is needed to rebuild, and if they don’t spend it they don’t rebuild.

          In the U.S. we have a housing construction downfall – constructors have no work. But in Haiti, construction is desperately needed. Why not hire American workers to build overseas? It’s just an example of how to do something other than sitting on money.

          • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

            How many people in the American construction industry are going to relocate to Haiti, given that it’s a dangerous cesspool right now?

            Also, where is there any truth in your assertion that aid groups aren’t spending? They are. They’re spending it over time, however. Big meaningful difference.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      As long as the directors have jobs

      • leprofie says:

        Careful. Charities differ significantly in this regard. Administration is a real cost and some NGOs do a great job at keeping the overhead very, very low. Do your research, then donate.

        • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

          It’s also important to note that many, if not most of the people working for NGOs– particularly the leadership– could have higher paying jobs in the private sector.

          NGOs have to balance between not spending on talent and actually getting good people. Do people really think it’s easy to hire CEO-quality people for cheap? Especially CEOs who can manage gigantic multi-mission organizations like the ARC?

          Armchair quarterbacks ought to try playing a real game or two before they open their mouths.

          • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

            Oh my god, are we still buying the “CEO’s are worth money” crap? Putting aside the idea that people rise to their level of incompetence, being a CEO is not a particularly difficult or challenging job in many respects, otherwise no one could do it.

            • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

              Have you, I dunno, actually been in a management position of any sort?

              • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

                Actually… yes. Not a Fortune 500 CEO, but I have no interest in being one. I actually have no interest in management positions anywhere whatsoever. But some opportunities are worth too much to pass up. Also, if that’s not enough for you, my father’s had a successful career in management for a few decades now. How do you think people get those jobs? If you said exceptional competence above the competition for the job, you’d be right. If you said superhuman abilities, you’d be wrong. It’s hard work, maybe even six figures worth, but the ridiculous amounts made by many American CEOs? Nah. The assumption that’s frequently made is that because they manage a lot of money they are intrinsically responsible for the creation of that wealth. But 99.9% of the time, this simply isn’t true. But hey, I don’t complain, I don’t have student loans to pay back because CEOs are so overpaid. My family has always been aware of where that money comes from and how much of it is really justified.

                • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

                  OK, hang on a second there.

                  Are American CEOs overpaid? Arguably yes. Depends on your definition of overpaid, and there’s a lot of economics there that’s difficult to manage in a blog post like this.

                  However, are people of the caliber necessary to run the ARC or MSF or other major non-profits rare? Yes. Absolutely. I’m a low-level manager in a major multinational, and I can assure you that the average person on the street could not handle my work. Not only do I require a high level technical knowledge base, I require the ability to manage many complex tasks at once. And I see the work the CEO here does on a regular basis, and frankly at this stage of my career I could not handle it.

                  Furthermore, I never said that someone needs to be superhuman. However, they do need to have skill sets that are often quite rare and highly demanded. There aren’t a lot of Eric Schmidts in the world. There are even fewer willing to work for half the price.

                  But hey, if you think you could manage the Red Cross and do it as well as Gail McGovern, you should submit your resume.

  2. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    I’m actually somewhat relieved to find out that most of the funds have not been spent. Why? After seeing on the news how little has been done in Haiti, my reaction was, “great, all that money that was donated has gone to waste”.

  3. wackydan says:

    Just another reason I rarely give to large charitable organizations. I give local, where I know 100% of every dollar goes towards the intended recipients.

    What made me think this way? The cyclical shame the United Way has thrust upon us with it’s high salaries, silly retirement packages for their leaders, and the high % of each dollar that goes towards “administrative costs”.

    I actually feel better about the gov’t wasting my taxes they collect than giving to a large charity.

    Give local.

    • obits3 says:

      You allways have to watch charitable organizations. My pet peeve is when I go to a church and they say “We need more money,” then, a year later they are like “We need to build a bigger building” when they really have not grown that much. I think to myself:

      If you would just stop and enjoy your building for a generation, maybe you wouldn’t need so much money!

      • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

        Yes, because a church and the ARC are totally the same thing.

        Cool story, bro.

        • zibby says:

          I, too, enjoyed this tale.

          (Andy Rooney voice) You know what I really hate? When you shoot off $50 to some charity on a whim and they spend most of it pestering you for money of the course of the next 5 years.

          • zibby says:

            “over ” the course.

            Damn.

          • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

            The only way to donate, in my opinion, is anonymously. Sure you don’t get the tax breaks, but if you’re giving for tax reasons then you’re not really being altruistic anyway.

            I don’t want to be pegged as a mark for easy money. My parents are guilted and shaken down pretty much every week with mail, calls, and whatnot after being generous from 9/11 and it’s STILL going on. It’s pretty disgusting.

            • Bsamm09 says:

              Giving anonymously doesn’t negate the tax break. You don’t get the receipt but there are ways to substantiate the donation if you are audited.

            • obits3 says:

              “but if you’re giving for tax reasons then you’re not really being altruistic anyway.”

              Very true. Also, anyone who gives money away to save money on taxes, needs to take basic math. You save more money just keeping your money and paying the tax =)

              That said, if you are giving away money, you should not pay tax on that money. Think of it like alimony. The one paying is “transferring” income to another person. So, in a way, when you give away assets to charity, you have a lower income and should not be taxed as much. Contrary to what some have said, you are not morally “double-dipping” if you take the deduction.

              I too like to give anonymously. If they are a not-for-profit, then they will not bother me. If it is my church, I don’t want the leadership to judge me (good or bad) based on what they think I should be giving. One of my favorite passages:

              “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” – Epistle of James 2:1-4

        • jessjj347 says:

          I understand the comparison. It’s about giving money freely and not being able to know how it’s being used.

    • ARP says:

      Funny, your complaints are the same I would use for the health care industry.

      • wackydan says:

        Your comment has no tangible comparison. One operates for profit, the others do not and are a completely different industry. Nice try.

        • ARP says:

          That was my subtle point. We hold organizations who are supposed to (very directly) save lives and help people up to a very high standard. Healthcare is in a similar category, but is private and for profit, and doesn’t have such scrutiny. But I admit, a bit of a tangent.

        • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

          Very few hospitals are actually for-profit.

    • clownsRcreepy says:

      Uh, the United Way IS local…

      So….

      • wackydan says:

        Local, but a large national. I’d rather give to a small church based group, give to my local EMS and fire services, and biker groups than to the United Way, Salvation Army, etc.

    • YOXIM says:

      I make my own charity organizations at home.

    • jesusofcool says:

      See, I get a little irritated when people complain about their donations going to “administrative costs.” Somebody’s got to pay to keep the lights and the heat on in the office and pay the person who processes and tracks the finances a living wage – you get all those things at your job, why shouldn’t non-profit organizations and their employees have the same? That money doesn’t come out of thin air.

  4. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    Wait. STOP THE PRESSES.

    HOLD THE PHONE.

    You mean to tell me that aid organizations are being careful with how they spend money, seeing their missions as long-term endeavors rather than spend and dump overnight vacations?

    I’ve lost my faith in everything I’ve ever known.

  5. EnergyStarr says:

    from my friends that have been to Haiti recently; these organizations are being held from distributing incoming aid by the current Haitian regime. I would assume that this aid is being held by responsible organizations until the supply stream is fully opened by the government.

    • fsnuffer says:

      It would be nice if Haiti waived the 40% import duty. It is not about feeding the people, it is about feeding the corrupt Haiti politicians.

      • RosevilleWgn says:

        This is the type of thing that makes me wonder why we are bothering to help them in the first place.

        • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

          Because we’re human beings and capable of sympathy and other nice human emotions?

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            If that were the case, we’d ignore the corrupt government’s import tax and give to the people.

            • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

              And how would I “give to the people?” I can’t go there and just drop off a house. I need to delegate that to others who have more experience.

      • El-Brucio says:

        Indeed. The aid being siphoned off by the corrupt government officials ensures that the problems that led to this crisis will happen again, with the same results. The Haitian people are essentially being used as hostages.

  6. Bativac says:

    It seems like anytime there is a tragedy, the Red Cross comes under fire for how they’re managing or using the money (Sept 11, Hurricane Katrina, Indian tsunami, earthquake in Haiti).

    How transparent is the Red Cross? Seems like they do a lot of “sitting” on donations. Is it sitting in interest-earning bank accounts? Is it all a scam cooked up by an evil mastermind? I just read that the COO of the Red Cross is Lex Luthor. Is that true?

    • Sneeje says:

      Would you rather they spend the money just to spend it? The money being there is just the first step. The next step is to have the resources, approval barriers overcome, and logistics ready to actually execute.

      I’m not saying you’re wrong, just that much more analysis/information is needed before a judgment can be made, I think.

      • jessjj347 says:

        I would rather they do that if they’re making a profit (many of these big nonprofits make profit).

        • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

          Do you have proof of this assertion, or are you just saying “profit” in place of “more money this year than last year?”

          • Bsamm09 says:

            I think he may be referring to UBTI.

            • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

              Even if he is, it’s asinine to expect non-profits to not manage their money wisely.

              • Bsamm09 says:

                I agree 100%.

                • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

                  On a slightly related note, I’m sick of the following attitudes on Consumerist:

                  1. Anyone or any organization who manages money well is a jerk.
                  2. Anyone or any organization who is successful and strives to be the best is a jerk.
                  3. Anyone or any organization that believes in high-quality goods irrespective of the price is a jerk.

                  It’s possible to be a great thinking consumer and ALSO incredibly successful. It’s also possible to manage money beyond “savings account!” and be financially sound.

                  Anti-elitism/anti-success is silly because, frankly, why wouldn’t you want to be great?

                  • Bsamm09 says:

                    Couldn’t agree more. Who wouldn’t want to be the best possible. Doesn’t mean the richest. also like to add:

                    “All Corporations are evil and always try to screw their customers.”

                    People who have these attitudes remind me of racists. Their bias against corps only allow them to see and focus on the bad news. Kind of like reading stories about crimes committed by other races and thinking that all of them are bad.

          • Razor512 says:

            Definition:
            “NPO, (also known as a not-for-profit organization) is an organization that does not distribute its surplus funds to owners or shareholders”

            non profit is a easy title to get, the problem is it is easy to still make a profit.

            Many higher ups in the red cross make over $400,000 a year in salaries (thats donators money going to make then rich, the goal of a business is to become rich and if your non profit does that then you could care less about getting that bonus)

            Most non profits are really for profit in disguise. (I am not saying that they are scams)
            They simply increase their higher ups pay as the non profit becomes more successful in collection donations.
            If a non profit is able to give 100% of all donations as workers salary, the company will remain a non profit even though none of the money went to the cause. With most non profit charities, as little as 10 cents of every dollar actually goes to the cause the charity is supporting, the rest is usually lost in “administrative fees” (aka making some guy in a suit pretty wealthy), as well as other expenses.

            Many non profit charities will make a large use of volunteer work while at the same time paying the execs who coordinate the volunteer work, a lot of money

            All in all with non profit, salary= good, bonuses= bad, including the bonus as part of the salary= good
            as long as you call it a cost of living adjustment and not a bonus

            the end result is the same but the differences is names allows them to keep the title.

    • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

      Also, 9/11 changed the dynamic. Historically organizations such as the red cross would use a tragedy to collect into their genral fund, and decide internally how much was to be spent on the current tragedy. After 9/11, there was a backlash because they basically admitted this and people weren’t pleased that their donations to the 9/11 tragedy woudn’t be used to help in the 9/11 tragedy.

      I don’t think this appears to be the case here

    • ARP says:

      Well the red cross/ red crescent is one of the few organizations in the world that most governments, political groups, even terrorists will allow in to help people as they are non-political/relgious in nature, with the notable exception of the US.

      So, there may be some waste in that, but I also think they intentionally keep a low profile about their money and where it goes (e.g. ghe US might not want their help if they found out that Hezbollah gave them money- I know, it’s just an example). They’ve only spoken out a handful of times in recent years about human rights issues.

  7. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    I guess my first reaction is to say that if I was donating to the Haiti cause, it was because they desperately needed help right then and there and not in a year and a half. I understand things can take time to clean up, rebuild, transport things over. Regardless of that point, I sure hope there aren’t people still suffering because the Red Cross is “saving” that money and “spending” it wisely. When it comes to humanity, I’m not sure the “biggest bang for your buck” theory applies.

    Jon Stewart “Be a f*cking human.”

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      And if they spend more NOW, then there will be less suffering just because?

      Managing funds if you’re an NGO is a difficult balancing act between wanting to do MOAR NAO and actually make long-term improvements.

      Furthermore, by simply dumping a ton of money in a place like Haiti, you’re setting up a perfect breeding ground for warlordism and factionalism in a country that’s teetering on the brink of ruin. Sad as it may be, there are times when less is more in humanitarian relief projects.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        How so? Giving Haitians coins, yes. But giving Haitians food and shelter doesn’t really breed warlord-style living.

        • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

          http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/02/02/world/main6165428.shtml

          Because big bad men with guns come and take it away. And then they profit from that, and grow more powerful.

          We see this all the time in Africa.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            Then curtail guns, not aid.

            I don’t like the rationale of not giving aid because it’s taken away. Let the people suffer because we can’t help them effectively? No thanks. Change the way we help.

            • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

              Wow, curtail guns?

              I’m sure nobody has thought of that.

              Now, who’s going to do it?

        • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

          Go read some books on international aid, especially those written by people who grew up in the locations under discussion, and your rather naive assertion might change.

          A large portion of $$ and commodities flowing into countries without good governance winds up bolstering corruption and doing more harm than good.

      • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

        Oh, no, I’m not trying to imply that a surge of rebuilding efforts or anything similar is in the best interests of the country. Quite opposite, actually. I am trying to infer that if I donated money to help with medical, water, food, shelter and the Red Cross is sitting there saying “Why spend $$$ on a tent for shelter, when we could save that money and add it to $$$ to build a whole infrastructure!”

        Haiti is Haiti. Warlords, murders, things I would never want to encounter. I’m not donating to build Haiti into a beautiful new world. I am donating to help those people who are stuck in that God awful country with no way out, and no way to help themselves.

    • obits3 says:

      “I’m not sure the “biggest bang for your buck” theory applies.”

      True. People who sent money to Haiti, wanted to help the people of Haiti rebuild fast. Holding the money can feel like telling a homeless guy:

      “I know you are hungry today, but I can get you twice as much food in a week.”

      After a week, the guy is dead.

      • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

        Except that in Haiti, you also have to worry about nasty factions with guns who really want money so they can be even nastier.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      This is true, but suffering later instead of suffering now is still suffering. I donated to various organizations and it doesn’t bother me that the funds might not be used right now. Long term planning is very important for everyone.

      • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

        Difference is: Will the suffering now create more deaths instead of just continual suffering in the later? Suffering is suffering.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I do want nonprofits to help now, obviously, but my money is equal to my neighbor’s money. If we both donate, and his funds get used immediately and mine are set aside for the future, I don’t see it as being such a problem. Now, if not enough money is being used for the current needs, I would have a problem. The issue here is, is enough money being used right now, and how do you balance the two.

    • jesusofcool says:

      See, I’m also a big fan of that J. Stew turn of phrase and yet I don’t think he would see it like this. I think there’s a number of problems at work here. First of all, the Red Cross has the money, but even they don’t have the means. The Haitian government isn’t exactly cooperative with foreign aid organizations and more importantly, NGOs aren’t having an easy time getting people over there to distribute. Sure lots of people donated $10 but not a lot of Americans, other than Sean Penn, dropped everything, ran to the nearest NGO and begged to be flown to Haiti to help. In light of this isn’t not surprising that they haven’t spent everything. But even if that wasn’t true, I’d still be glad they hadn’t spent it all. After all, any natural disaster like this has long term repercussions. As long as the funds are being set aside into some sort of endowment that can be tapped for the next 5 or even 10 years to rebuild over the long-term I don’t see any issue. Better than than spending it all in two months (which still wouldn’t solve every problem) and then skipping out of dodge.
      The only thing I find concerning about this issue and NGOs is that some of these organizations don’t set aside money given in response to a particular cause as restricted to that particular cause – it just goes into the general pot. Which in the long run, is a good thing because it pays for keeping the lights on and keeping the copier running and paying their employees a living wage. But I think donors who think the money is designated for a particular fund can feel lied to if they find that out.

  8. kimdog says:

    You totally took that Doctors Without Borders quote out of context… he was speaking about the NGO world in general, not Doctors Without Borders specifically. They are one of the few organizations who have actually spent all the money they raised.

    From the Doctors Without Borders website:

    By the end of 2010, MSF has estimated it will have spent all of the €104 million ($138 million) donated by private supporters for Haiti.

    The whole blurb from the article:
    “Unni Karunakara, president of Doctors Without Borders, says it’s unconscionable that aid groups launched cholera fundraising appeals when their coffers remain filled.

    “We are indeed accountable to the Haitian people, and I think we have a lot of explaining to do,” Karunakara says.”

  9. Cosmo_Kramer says:

    This makes a lot of sense considering that probably 99% of the money that would ever be donated to this cause would come in the first month, while impact of the earthquake would last a lot longer. Were they just supposed to spend all of our money in the first two months and they say “see you later, and good luck”?

  10. Trioxin says:

    I wonder if the interest collected will also be spent on the Haitian people.

  11. ARP says:

    1) Some organizations are notorious about “overhead” and “administrative costs” and give less money than you think to the actual cause. They exist more for themselves than for the cause.

    2) I”m not too angry about this (yet). There was probably a lot of funding when the earthquake first hit. But people have forgotten and some of these more mature organizations sat on their money, so they can have a longer term view.

    3) Many organizations are concerned that this is a zero sum game and are budgeting for their total operations. Meaning, money they got for Haiti means less donations later. Now, if DWB says, “contribute to the Haiti fund,” that money should go to Haiti efforts. If DWB says contribute to us, we help people around the world (including Haiti), then they have more discretion.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Wait, you mean that aid organizations have costs?

      I thought that educated people and resources were free?

      This reminds me of the dips who flipped out when they found out that the CEO of the Red Cross is paid around $500K a year. Gasp! Horror! Shame!

      Except that, in the real world (y’know, where things costs money), hiring people of the caliber needed to run an organization like the ARC costs a lot of money. It also costs a lot of money to have the armies of on-the-ground aid workers available.

      Non-profits they may be, but paupers they are not.

      • ARP says:

        Agreed- it takes money to pay a doctor or a skilled PM and some people aren’t realistic about how much it costs (or should cost). Think about it how many CEO’s ran a company into the ground and made 100x what the Red Cross CEO made.

        I guess I was pointing the finger at some NGO’s that have administrative costs as high as 75% or that are non-profit in name only.

        • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

          Sure, but those are few and far between. Orgs like the ARC, MSF, etc. are all pretty solid and worth every penny.

  12. EllenRose says:

    I expect some of the money I donate will be spent in a rush at the beginning, bringing food, water, shelter, and medicine. These are needed immediately, in almost every disaster. Then the rest can hang around until long-term needs become more clear. But I’d rather not see the money sitting in a bank a year later, paying for administrators and celebrities.

  13. Marlin says:

    Problem is the current Gov is very weak there and has little long-term plan. The hope is the new prez can do something to rebuild the country. If so then you spend the money. To spend it now would be a waste as it would be a bandaid at best, not a fix.

  14. Bernardo says:

    I refused to donate any money to hati since I knew how bad and corrupt the government was. Its not jsut the shady funds that are screwing peoople but the whole system of government they have is so broken they CANT be helped. Not unless the UN or some outside agency oversees the corrupt elections and outside forces monitors the retraining and rehirering of new government employees.
    The saddest part is even if some outside nations were to do this then the population would accuse them of trying to take over. They are just kinda screwed.
    The hardest part about what needs to be done is we are already rebuilding a few other corrupt nations and we are seeing how much money is getting wasted there. YES some change is happening but billions upon billions is getting wasted. And at a time where our own nation is struggeling it seems giving more and trying to manage yet another failed nation isnt nationally prudent. How many local governments, cities, and even states could be using this money we send elsewhere? How many food banks?
    Even today Reuters is reporting how the corrupt government and its wealthy elite are pretty much eating up all the aid money. Add that to a few corrupt or greedy contractors and you have a cycle of fail. Im not saying we shouldnt do anything, but i feel like giving money to the relief isnt really going to help. Now if you knew famileis there, nice hoenst ones or a good church or organization that you or a friend PERSONALLY know is over there doign good and giving out what they can then great. If not then dont bother wasting your donations there. Give it elsewhere where it might do more good for the people who need it.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      Agreed, with the added concern (on my part) about breeding long-term dependence.

      Ten, twenty, thirty years from now: Those schools that you rebuilt? They’re crumbling; give us new ones! etc etc etc.

      I don’t think we should refuse to help–but it’s a delicate situation.

  15. kelbear says:

    Money doesn’t make things happen by magic. Those pieces of green paper need to go to acquire equipment, and logistics personnel to move material from one place to another. If those aren’t available, throwing more money at it won’t help.

  16. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    I make my own charitable aid groups at home.

    No, really.

    I’m making some phone calls and so on to see if I can get some like-minded people together to start a new chapter of the Zombie Squad. Especially after being slammed by Hurricane Igor last year, and seeing just how many supposedly ‘prepared’ were left high and dry. (Well figuratively, anyway)

  17. Papa Bear says:

    You do have some say in how your charitable contributions are spent just by to whoim yo choose to donate. If you are lucky enough to donate a large sum, you may even be able to earmark your funds for a specific reason.

    As far has Haiti goes, the problems that we see there were not caused by the earthquake, That only enhanced them. Money has been pouring into Haiti for years and going to corrupt government officials. The legitimate charities are just holding back to make sure the money goes where it is needed most.

    Unfortunately, the Haitian governmental infrastructure is so weak and corrupt, that there is no direction being given to the charities from within. On that note, however, I will say they there are probably some crooked charities which have solicited funds that will never see Haiti or anyone else in need.

  18. Erika'sPowerMinute says:

    Is anyone else proud that Americans donated a billion and a half dollars?

    I mean, I know we have a lot to apologize for (like Paris Hilton and George Bush) but dang–we’s good people. How come so many people hate us so much?

  19. mannyvel says:

    Fat cat ceos?

    Red Cross CEO Salary in 2008: 500,000 (UPI)
    UNICEF: $201,351
    United Way CEO: $1,037,140

    http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_charities_salaries.htm

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Even if it were true, I wouldn’t care.

      Despite the absurdly stupid belief that anyone can run a huge organization, it costs a lot of money to hire talented leaders.

  20. neilb says:

    If these groups dumped all that money immediately then there would have been some awful consequences. Haiti is ridiculously complicated to apply aid to.
    A friend of mine runs a Haitian aid org and said that overpaying those who are involved is a huge problem. Corruption and overpayment is a really big issue. It destroys trusted aides and longstanding friendships.
    Throwing money at things in Haiti does not usually work. Creatively getting Haitians the help they need to help themselves is all that I have seen success with–and I have heard a lot of stories.
    Planet Money had a great series on Haitian aid that everyone who cares about these issues should hear.

  21. smirkette says:

    Now I’m really glad that I made my donation to Doctors Without Borders!

  22. oldwiz65 says:

    More likely they are using the funds inappropriately. If you want to help people make sure it goes to an organization that actually uses the money to help. That’s a big problem with the famous charities; they hate to have to tell people what percentage of the money actually goes to helping people as opposed to “fund raising and administrative”. It’s not surprising to find less than 60% going to actually help and the rest to go to other expenses.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      I love these arguments because I have yet to see any sources that demonstrate that this is actually true.

      So, sources?

  23. thesalad says:

    NPR also did a story about a year ago talking about how hard it is to spend money and get things started in Hati. If I remember it took a food distributor over 2 years and a lot of paperwork to provide and train people how to use crates for Mangos instead of just piling them on the floor. And I can’t even rememember if it was successful of if the guy gave up.