Sunday, January 17, 2010

Advice on choosing a charity to donate to Haiti quake relief

Food For The Poor is the charity where I’ve worked for the past 16 years as a writer. I’ve traveled to Haiti, and other countries to assess the needs, interview families and write newsletters and fund-raising materials to help them. If you are interested, you can check out the FAQ page here.

Here is the page to make an online donation:

If you want to help the victims of Haiti's earthquake, but are uncertain which organization to choose, how do you choose? There are lots of great charities besides my organization (International Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, World Vision, CARE, just to mention a few).

How do you know which ones are legit and actually helping in Haiti, or just scams?I recommend visiting this web site to check out charities:

Charity Navigator investigates non-profits and their finances and rates them. The highest rating, which my charity (Food For The Poor) has, is four stars.

Here’s some tips on giving from Charity Navigator:
1) Give to an established charity.
2) Designate your gift to go towards the cause you want to help (i.e. mark on the check and the envelope – Haiti earthquake relief)
3) Avoid telemarketers.
4) Research the charity.

Here are other tips:

Beware of street collections and giving cash. Anyone can slap a label on a jar, put an official looking badge and say they are collecting for earthquake relief. For example, when driving to work the other day, I saw homeless people who solicit for a local homeless charity asking for donations for earthquake relief.

Here’s some tips from the Better Business Bureau (which has accredited Food For The Poor)

Be cautious when giving online, especially concerning websites and new groups that spring up overnight.

Does the charity have an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas? Can the charity meet immediate needs? (For example, the Red Cross always does. So does Doctors without Borders. Food For The Poor’s Haiti operations office is close to the airport and we’ve already distributed food and are flying in more.)

Is the charity is providing direct aid or are they just raising money for other groups?

No matter who you chose to send your gift to, it counts. You may think whatever you can give won’t be more than a drop in the bucket compared to the needs, but consider that your drop, combined with other drops, creates an ocean. Every dollar counts. You’d be amazed at how charities can get the most bang for your buck.

Think of it this way: if your gift could help save just one life of someone who survived the horror of this tragedy, wouldn’t that make a difference to you?


librarypat said...

I checked out Food For The Poor. I am impressed with their record. Unfortunately, many well known organizations have very poor records concerning the percentage of money that goes to administration and publicity compared to what actually goes to the projects.
As a Peace Corps volunteer (many years ago) I saw first had how good or poor in-country programs were. We already made our donation for the relief effort to Catholic Relief Services. Our Parish has a sister parish in Haiti. It is in a rural area and no one has heard anything yet as to how they fared in
the quake.
I work at a county library and will be sure to pass along the information on Food For The Poor to those who are talking about making donations to the relief effort.
Keep up your great work!

Gerri Russell said...


I am so very happy to hear that Catherine and her sister are okay. What welcome news amongst all the tragedy.

I made a donation to Food For the Poor and I am encouraging others to as well. What wonderful work you do for other, Bonnie. Bless you!