On giving to Haiti

On NPR’s Talk of the Nation today, Chronicle of Philanthropy editor Stacy Palmer made the key points about giving to Haitian relief charities: “The most important thing is to find out whether the charity has experience doing disaster work and working in Haiti… [T]hat’s the best way to guarantee that your dollars will go to the right thing.”

Stephanie Strom’s February 1 NYT story on pooling relief money to make it more effective began:

Before the earthquake, the American Red Cross had 15 people in Haiti working on projects like malaria prevention and measles vaccines. Partners in Health, a charity based in Boston, had more than 700 doctors and nurses among a staff of almost 5,000 operating a hospital and multiple clinics in the country.

Yet the Red Cross has raised nearly $200 million for its relief operations in Haiti, and Partners in Health about $40 million.

Disaster fund-raising rewards organizations for their marketing prowess and name recognition as much if not more than for the scope, relevance and quality of their emergency services.

Over at Economic Principals, David Warsh focuses his weekly column on Haiti’s uniquely dysfunctional history and culture and on the same organization, Partners in Health, which has been making a difference there for 23 years.

PIH is unusual among foreign-funded relief organizations in that almost all its employees in Haiti – including its leadership there – are Haitians. PIH’s Stand With Haiti campaign appears to be one place where Haiti donations are likely to be spent efficiently.

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