Safe Ways to Help Haiti

by Kevin on January 15, 2010

You may be expecting an article about how to dominate your finances with your spouse today. I’ll get to that next week. I am going to interrupt my normal posting schedule to briefly talk to you about the unfortunate and sad things happening in Haiti.

Earlier this week Haiti was hit by an earthquake that registerd 7.0 on the Richter scale. In case you didn’t know: Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and is ill-prepared to respond to this sort of natural disaster. Even if they were prepared many of the facilities that would have been used in that preparation of been destroyed. (For example, the Presidential Palace and the United Nations building both collapsed.) Not good stuff. has a group of 48 photos in their “The Big Picture” section that show off the extent of the damage. (Warning: some of these are graphic, but the graphic photos show up blank until you click on them.)

If You Want to Help

Lifehacker has a great article on how you can safely help Haiti (read as: don’t get scammed). The last thing you want is to think you are helping this poor country when in reality someone is taking your hard earned and well intended money and pocketing it themselves.

The key link I want to mention from that post is Charity Navigator. This website tracks and maintains a list and rating system (1 to 4 stars) of the the best charities based on how much of their incoming revenues go toward administrative expenses, fundraising expenses, and then program (helping) expenses. The larger percentage toward program expenses the better the score. It’s a fantastic website.

On top of that Charity Navigator has compiled a list of charities that are helping in Haiti. I highly recommend you use this list to filter who you consider sending your money to. For example you might consider giving to the American Red Cross. That’s fine and dandy, but they are a 3-star organization that spends 5.9% of revenues on administrative expenses.

Compare the Red Cross to Doctors Without Borders and Hope For Haiti:

  • Red Cross, 3-star, 5.9% administrative expenses, 90.1% program expenses, 3.9% fund raising expenses
  • Doctors Without Borders, 4-star, 1.1% administrative expenses, 87.3% program expenses, 11.4% fund raising expenses
  • Hope for Haiti, 4-star, 1.1% administrative expenses, 98.2% program expenses, 0.6% fund raising expenses

The Red Cross has a higher admin expense than Doctors Without Borders, but in the end (due to scale, I’m guessing) they spend less on fund raising expenses and thus end up with more money going toward program expenses.

Out of these three Hope for Haiti looks best. Extremely low administrative and fund raising expenses. 98 cents of every dollar donated goes to programs.

I’m not making any recommendations and I have no affiliation with any of these charities. But when you give… make an informed choice.

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