- Relief & Recovery: Smart donations go to organizations with quick disaster response (for the purpose of saving lives) and long-term recovery plans and experience (for the purpose of rebuilding lives).
- Overfunding & Underfunding: Organizations focused on the immediate disaster response tend to be overfunded (e.g., the Red Cross after 9/11) whereas recovery and reconstruction efforts are underfunded after the news stories stop.
- Cash & Commodities: Smart donations come in the form of cash and are better spent on commodities and services in the affected country to promote economic development in the process of relief and recovery.
- Foresighted Funding: Smart donations support recovery efforts focused on disaster preparedness and improved infrastructure.
- Culturally Informed Funding: Effective organizations to support have an existing knowledge of communities, cultural norms, and power dynamics that reduce unintended negative consequences.
The following giving recommendations are based on an organization’s:
- quality of staff on the ground in Haiti
- current and significant role in the immediate relief efforts of food, water, shelter, and medical services
- functional headquarters in/around Port au Prince
- a strong network of partners in the relief effort
- proven disaster response capabilities
- ability to transport supplies into Haiti efficiently
- commitment to long-term development after disaster response
- faith-based organization concerned about physical, social, and spiritual care
5 Giving Recommendations
There are many more great organizations who are working in Haiti that do not meet all these requirements (e.g., Doctors without Borders, Partners in Health, Red Cross, Americares), but these 5 organizations stood out after evaluating a couple dozen that had created a Haiti Disaster Response fund and met most of the above criteria. Here are the giving recommendations and their rationale:
1. WORLD RELIEF
Rationale: The day after the earthquake WR’s country director Dr. Hubert Morquette was performing surgeries at King’s Hospital in PAP as WR staff began organizing themselves. Within 72 hours WR added relief experts to their 40-person Haiti staff, set up the first of many feeding centers, and shipped in clean water and additional supplies from the DR. World Relief has years of experience in disaster relief, an indigenous staff that has been living in Haiti, strategic partnerships (with MAP Intl, World Concern, HOPE Intl, Tearfund, Medical Teams Intl, etc.), and a stable functioning office inside Port au Prince to direct the relief efforts. They have been designated as the lead organization for this disaster on behalf of the Integral Alliance of relief organizations (www.integralalliance.org). Their work will maximize the compassionate outreach of Haitian churches, and they are committed to ongoing community development in Haiti in partnership with churches for years to come. Due to their partnerships with other organizations and community members, their initial funding needs are lower than other pure disaster response efforts, but they will continue to invest millions in ongoing relief and recovery efforts if funding is available.
2. SAMARITAN’S PURSE
Rationale: In 24 hours SP had their disaster response team on the ground to assess the situation and deliver an initial batch of relief supplies. Comparatively, they have been one of the most successful organizations at landing planes full of supplies at the overwhelmed and damaged airport in PAP (3 DC-6s by Friday, 2 C-130s on Saturday, etc.). They have delivered those supplies to the Baptist Mission Hospital and partnered with Food for the Hungry to distribute survival kits, tarps, and water purification kits in parts of the city. Although they do not have long-term development goals, their efficient transportation, strategic network, and quality staff on the ground (e.g., medical team leader Dr. David Gettle) makes them a strategic gift recipient during the initial weeks of the relief effort. They will spend $20-30 million on their efforts based on comparisons to the Tsunami and Katrina (where they are still working today).
3. CURE International
Rationale: The day after the earthquake CURE’s hospital in the Dominican Republic sent a 5-person team led by Dr. Scott Nelson into Port au Prince to add their surgical expertise to an emergency medical location. They have been performing surgeries nonstop and more medical workers and supplies are being sent each day. CURE’s greatest strengths will be utilized after the initial relief efforts that focus on triage when there is a transition to reconstructive surgery both at temporary medical facilities in PAP and at their hospital in Santo Domingo (DR gov’t has promised to bring in large numbers of casualties). For the long-term CURE hopes to raise millions of dollars to cover the cost of building or rebuilding a modern children’s hospital in PAP where they can continue serving Haitians for years to come. So donations will cover costs of doctors operating in PAP and the DR, medical supplies, and the eventual building of a permanent CURE hospital in PAP.
4. WATER MISSIONS International
Rationale: Two days after the earthquake Samaritan’s Purse had delivered 2 water purification mobile units to PAP. WMI has 10 more en route, 20 more should be ready by Tuesday, and they have orders for a total of 62 units from organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, Food for the Poor, and Convoy of Hope. WMI has engineered a unique water purification system that is mobile, solar-powered, and capable of purifying 2,000 liters of water every hour from diverse and dirty sources. When diesel is scarce, water is needed in large amounts, and money must be spent efficiently to provide it now and for coming months and years, WMI offers the best solution I know. WMI already had a presence in Haiti with country directors who are ready to train volunteers and NGO partners on the proper setup and operation of the water systems. On Saturday more WMI staff entered Haiti from the DR via ground transportation. After their initial relief efforts, all units will be used for long-term development programs in Haiti that include health and hygiene training. They estimate that one unit costs around $25,000 to build, transport, and train others in its proper use and in the health and hygiene curriculum.
5. MAP International
Rationale: Medical Assistance Programs Int’l is a provider of medical supplies (like the larger Americares) to many key relief organizations like World Relief, World Vision, International Medical Corp., etc. They had $2.7 million worth of medical supplies entering PAP 4 days after the earthquake and a total of $5 million scheduled. With the combination of donated pharmaceuticals from large medical corporations and cash donations, they will be able to keep a steady supply of medicines entering the country. Because of the large amount of pharmaceutical donations, they claim that $1 donated equals $75 in medical supplies provided. Since an organization like World Concern ran out of medical supplies to distribute from their PAP warehouse in one day, medical suppliers with experience in disaster relief and a solid network of partners are critical to support during the initial weeks of the relief efforts especially.
Confidence in Your Giving
The philanthropic advisory firm Excellence in Giving will be collecting reports on the quality of work and the effectiveness of each organization’s expenditures on Haiti relief. We have evaluated effective and ineffective funding in previous disasters and believe donations to these organizations will prove highly effective in relieving the suffering in the next couple weeks and rebuilding the country in the long-term. If you agree with the criteria we used to recommend these organizations above the rest, then you should have the confidence you need to give what you determine is appropriate and experience the joy of helping those whose story is breaking your heart.