Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts
Updated May 2012
In January 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, collapsing buildings in the capital, Port-au-Prince. The earthquake caused more than two hundred thousand deaths, thousands of injuries, and left more than a million people homeless. An outbreak of cholera hit the vulnerable population in October 2010, and more than 7,000 Haitians have lost their lives to the disease since then.
Cholera bacteria have contaminated the water sources millions of Haitians rely on for survival. Heavy rains in the spring and tropical storms in the summer are expected to trigger spikes in cholera cases and related deaths. The Pan American Health Organization anticipates 200,000 to 250,000 more Haitians may become sick with cholera this year. Relief organizations hope to mitigate the outbreak by providing increased health services, access to clean water, sanitation and education about the deadly disease.
CharityWatch announces its top-rated list of charities involved in continuing Haitian relief efforts following the 2010 earthquake and the ongoing cholera epidemic. CharityWatch, a leading charity watchdog that issues letter grade (A+ to F) ratings of nonprofit groups, identifies the following charities which are providing aid to the victims. Each of the groups listed below receives an “A” or “B” grade based on the portion of their budgets going to program services and their fundraising efficiency. Contact the organizations directly for information on the specific types of relief work they are conducting in Haiti.
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Top-rated charities perform favorably in relation to CharityWatch benchmarks:
1) A charity should spend at least 75% of its budget on program services.
2) A charity should spend no more than $25 to raise $100.
Contact your favorite charities to find out if they provide the specific types of aid that you would like to fund, e.g., emergency relief, health care, infrastructure development, education, etc.
As with any charitable contribution, Americans wanting to help relief efforts in Haiti should send contributions to only those charities with an established track record of helping people in this region.
Donors should be wary of unsolicited emails and text messages from individuals claiming to be victims of the disaster. CharityWatch advises against giving directly to such individuals and urges donors to contribute to charities involved in disaster relief efforts. The charities are better equipped to identify individual victims and direct assistance and aid appropriately.
As always, exercise precaution when donating online. To ensure that the website is legitimate, verify that the organization's website address is the exact same address that is displayed in your browser's address bar. Even the slightest variation (such as the use of underscores instead of dashes between words) may indicate an imposter. If there is any doubt, call the charity to confirm the correct website address. It is best to manually type in the organization's website address in the address bar because simply clicking a link in an email or on an unfamiliar website may take you to a fraudulent website.
Look for a padlock icon (your browser may use another symbol) on the bottom right hand corner of your screen to determine whether a site is secure for credit card donations. If there is any concern about the site's legitimacy or security, call the charity. Some charities may use an outside Internet credit card vendor to process credit card donations. Again, the donor should verify this before contributing online.
Due to the magnitude of this disaster, it is important to be especially aware that disreputable, fly-by-night “charities” are set up to take advantage of the public’s generosity.
SEND A CHECK, NOT GOODS
The best way to help is by sending a check. Cash donations enable charities to buy the most needed type of food, medicine, clothing, shelter materials and other supplies. By buying relief products locally or regionally, charities can reduce shipping costs and more rapidly deliver assistance. Before sending any goods, first contact the charity to find out if they are appropriate and if it will be cost effective to distribute them. For example, after the 2004 Asian tsunami, boxes of donated winter coats, scarves and fuzzy hats, completely useless items in tsunami stricken nations with tropical climates, were sent to these nations.