As we all scramble to do what we can to help those suffering in Haiti, and support relief efforts, there are ways to make sure that you are making the most of your donation dollars. More importantly, there are ways to make sure that you are not being swindled.
- First, go with a charity that has a strong name and an established reputation. Avoid charities that you have not heard of, or are newly formed. While their intentions may be honorable, they may not be as efficient as an experienced organization.
- Even if your charity is well-known, still do some research. Ask friends what charities they support, check with the Better Business Bureau. My favorite resource is Charity Navigator, where people can check ratings for charities based on efficiency, effectiveness, and more. One would be surprised to find that while more well-known, the American Red Cross is not as highly rated as UNICEF or Oxfam or Americares (which is actually based here in Connecticut).
- Don't give via telemarketers. You have no way to know if they are legitimate, and even if they are, most are outsourced companies. These companies need to be paid, and they are paid with a portion of your donation. Donate directly to your charity.
- If you text to donate, make sure it is to a legitimate organization.
- Designate your donation. Many organizations are guaranteeing that your donation will go to efforts in Haiti. If they do not, make a note on your check, or in the "Notes" box online. By law, all donor designated funds must be allocated as stipulated by the donor.
- Be careful with emails. Charities may send them, and those are legitimate, but you may also receive ones from those claiming to be from Haiti with heartbreaking stories. However, don't fall for it. And never, never, open an attachment.
- There are many organizations working to support the Haitian people in many different ways. You can also tailor your giving this way as well. Some are providing immediate relief, some more to children, others to infrastructure. Some are concentrating more on the immediate demand while others are there for the long haul of rebuilding.
However you decide to give, be sure to do it wisely and do a little research beforehand. It's your hard-earned dollars and you want to do the most good you can with them!