Essence: An Insider's Guide To Donating To Haiti
By Alexandra Phanor-Faury, Essence, February 2, 2010
Many of us have been moved by the heartbreaking images and stories out of Haiti following the earth-shattering quake and have donated money and goods. There have been so many non-profits accepting donations for Haiti, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what organizations are credible and which ones will put our dollars to work in Haiti now.
The many reports of relief aid still piled up at the airport not making its way to those in need makes donating even that more confusing. Nevertheless, we know that there are organizations who are working tirelessly to help the hundreds of thousands Haitians who are now homeless, injured, hungry, and thirsty. They may not be as recognizable as say, The Red Cross or Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, but these organizations, run by foreigners and Haitians alike, have been on the ground working for years. They know the country and have already established a trusting working relationship with the people of Haiti. Chances are if the charity you decided to donate to isn’t already based in Haiti, your funds will most likely be used to set up offices and pay staff.
Not all relief agencies are going to put your donation to use in the same way, so stay informed and ask questions before pulling out your wallet. It’s not enough for them to just say they will help Haiti. Find out what they’ve done so far since the earthquake, what do they see is most needed on the ground and how have they been getting their goods to the people. If you are not satisfied with the answers, move on to the next relief organization. Blindly giving money is as good as throwing it in the trash.
To assist you in making an informed decision on where to donate your money, we’ve rounded up a couple of organizations who need your help and support to continue realizing their efforts in Haiti. Unlike the Red Crosses of the world, these non-profit names do not carry the same weight when it comes to fundraising, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get the job done.
Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods
Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering Haitians and transforming wastes into resources in Haiti. SOIL promotes integrated approaches to the problems of poverty, poor public health, agricultural productivity, and environmental destruction. They do this by working closely with community organizations and activists in Haiti. Even before the quake, Haiti lacked adequate sanitation facilities. Huge piles of trash would collect in streets with no sign of being picked up. People are forced to dispose trash in rivers, oceans and even in abandoned houses. You can imagine how the sanitation problem has worsened after the quake.
SOIL promotes ecological sanitation which is a low-cost way to keep control of trash through collecting and recycling human waste. “It simultaneously addresses many of Haiti’s most pressing issues: improving public health, increasing household income and agricultural productivity, mitigating environmental degradation, and providing low-cost sanitation for rural communities,” says the organization’s mission statement. One of the most successful SOIL programs is the Public Dry Toilet. Their goal is to provide families with inexpensive household toilets.
Water Missions International
Water Missions is a non-profit that provides clean, safe water to developing countries. They have gotten 41 clean water systems to Haiti since January 12th and twelve are up and running providing water to 60,000 Haitians. Eight more units are set to make their way to Haiti.
Partners In Health
PIH has a long standing history in Haiti providing health care through service, training and advocacy. They have many clinics already on the ground and are well respected in the country. More than 98 percent of their staff is comprised of community health workers in the communities they are assisting.
When two World Bank executives Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle created the Bank’s Development Marketplace in 1997, where people from around the world competed for World Bank funds, little did they suspect it would unveil the enormous potential of a global marketplace for philanthropy. GlobalGiving is a platform that connects donors with community-based projects. You select the projects you want to support and make a contribution. You can search by region or topic and your contribution is tax-deductible. The organization retains 15% of donations to cover its own costs. The organization also offers a nice feature we particularly enjoy: you get regular progress updates on the project you selected. It’s a great way to see the impact of your support. At time of writing the story, GlobalLiving had collected $971,178 from 12,794 donors to support 17 projects in Haiti. The full list is available here.
Deep Springs International
Deep Springs International (DSI) partners with existing organizations in communities to promote the development of water treatment businesses. Partners and site are selected through a rigorous five-step process and existing partners include Grove City College, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, World Concern and Jolivert Safe Water for Families. Historically focused on Haiti, the organization has been particularly active since the earthquake distributing supplies and aquatabs. It also recently received an important contribution covering all DSI’s administrative expenses for the next six months and ensuring that every dollar donated would go directly to Haiti in the form of purchasing materials required to build safe water systems, ship them into Haiti and pay local technicians to distribute them. You can donate here at (via Paypal) or by mail at Deep Springs International, PO Box 694, Grove City, PA 16127 (no cash please).