Still late to the party with everything else that’s going on, I thought it would still be worthwhile to put up a quick warning flag. I don’t want to dissuade anyone from donating, but please proceed with caution.
The overwhelming display of support thus far is simply incredible. It’s reassuring to know that Americans are still willing to extend themselves to help others. Unfortunately, there are others out there that who capitalize on tragedies.
The FBI put out a press release highlighting some of the warnings signs of potential scams.
Beyond the outright scams, there are still other factors to consider.
- How much of your money actually goes to direct relief? Another form of optimization – how well the organization is able to allocate its funds and put them to use is almost as important as the amount of funds it receives.
- How long has the organization been involved in the area? If the group doesn’t have an existing presence in the area or at least a satellite office/sister organization, some of your funds could be ill-spent simply getting mobilized
- How long has the organization been around, period. Older organizations usually have better efficiency in implementing their relief, since they’ve had the time to streamline their process.
- What type of aid does the organization provide? Someone with a degree in emergency preparedness could better highlight this, but I’m sure there’s a hierarchy of needs after a disaster. Medical probably being #1. A great organization for this type of aid is Doctors Without Borders.
- What long term benefits does the organization provide? The people of Haiti will require support beyond the immediate. Here’s where I can plug my own interests, a corollary to the above group is Engineers Without Borders. Although they aren’t capable of supporting large-scale projects, infrastructure is the basis for all communities.
- Don’t be tricked by “guilt marketing”. If you don’t contribute now, it doesn’t make you a bad person. Remember that crises continue to happen around the world every day. This specific incident is extreme, but giving money (or better yet – time) to another cause that you believe in is equally commendable.