Posts Tagged ‘giving smarter’

Hope for Haiti Now: Giving More.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Last Friday evening the stars aligned and networks came together to broadcast a 2-hour relief telethon to aid those struggling in Haiti. The Hope for Haiti Now telethon combined star power of celebrities answering the phone with an astonishing array of hope-filled musical performances and some heart-wrenching footage from Anderson Cooper, on the ground in Haiti.

And it worked. Disaster-related giving tends to trend downward as time goes on. The telethon, held more than week after the earthquake rocked Port-Au-Prince, was able to reverse that trend. As of yesterday, it had raised $61 million in donations worldwide.

Where is all that money going? Donations will benefit several major organizations – most of them with a longstanding background in disaster relief or a presence in Haiti. Curious about some of the organizations and how the money was being used, I looked into the recipient charities. What I found was that most of them were doing a great job “reporting back” what they are doing in Haiti and how donations are helping.

These organizations, in primarily their own words from their websites, are:

American Red Cross
More than 430 Red Cross and Red Crescent workers from at least 30 countries are in the country supporting thousands of local volunteers. Of them, more than 100 represent the American Red Cross, including a group of Creole interpreters on board the USNS Comfort.

The relief operation in Haiti is already the largest single-country personnel deployment in global Red Cross history. The number of emergency response teams in or en route to Haiti equals those that responded to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami—a disaster that spanned 14 countries.

Each Red Cross team has its own roles and expertise, and they are working together to form a powerful engine for relief.

WFP: World Food Programme
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. WFP is part of the United Nations system and is voluntarily funded.

Since the earthquake struck, WFP has delivered 3 million rations, the equivalent of nearly 10 million meals, to nearly 450,000 people. WFP aims to deliver 5-day rations to 100,000 people each day. Rations of rice, pulses, vegetable oil and salt are being delivered to orphanages and hospitals as a priority We are also delivering to camps for people made homeless by the quake.

Oxfam America
Working to end poverty and injustice. Oxfam has started cash-for-work programs in Port-au-Prince: In exchange for work to build latrines and clear up rubble from the camps, survivors earn money they can use to buy food (now increasingly available for sale in the city) and other essentials. Our cash-for-work program is a first step to restarting the city’s economy—it creates jobs and stimulates local markets.

Partners in Health
Partners in Health has been working in Haiti for more than 20 years. Partners In Health (PIH) works to bring modern medical care to poor communities in nine countries around the world. The work of PIH has three goals: to care for our patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world.

PIH’s surgical teams continue to race against time to provide surgical care to earthquake victims in Port-au-Prince. Operating rooms at the central general hospital (HUEH) in Port-au-Prince are fully operational again after being temporarily evacuated on yesterday in response to the aftershock. PIH is still coordinating the relief efforts at HUEH and reports having 12 operating rooms opened 24 hours per day. Across the country, we have a total of 20 operating rooms up and running.

To date, PIH has sent 22 plane loads with 144 medical volunteers – orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, surgical nurses and other medical professionals – and several thousand pounds of medical supplies to support the more than 4,500 PIH health care providers already in Haiti.

Despite these accomplishments, our teams throughout the country continue to report a great need for additional medicines (antibiotics, anesthesia and narcotics), medical equipment (anesthesia machines and x-rays), medical supplies (IVs, tubing, irrigating saline), and water.

UNICEF and its partners are conducting intensive relief operations in Haiti, in the aftermath of the 12 January 2010 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince and other densely populated areas. UNICEF’s USA fund has a generous private donor that is enabling the fund to absorb all administrative costs so 100% of donations will support the children in Haiti to provide them with medical care, clean water, food and emergency relief.

Two others have powerful people at their helm and are responding swiftly to needs in Haiti. Again in their own words.

Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
The two Presidents established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF) to respond to unmet needs in the country, foster economic opportunity, improve the quality of life over the long term for those affected, and assist the people of Haiti as they rebuild their lives and “build back better.” The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund will do this by working with and supporting the efforts of reputable 501(c)(3) nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations. Presidents Clinton and Bush oversee the CBHF through their respective nonprofit organizations, the William J. Clinton Foundation and Communities Foundation of Texas. One hundred percent of donations received by the Clinton Foundation and the Communities Foundation of Texas go directly to relief efforts.

Yéle Haiti
Yéle Haiti is a grassroots movement that builds global awareness for Haiti while helping to transform the country through programs in education, sports, the arts and environment. Yéle’s community service programs include food distribution and mobilizing emergency relief. Grammy-Award winning musician, humanitarian and Goodwill Ambassador to Haiti Wyclef Jean founded Yéle Haiti in 2005.

If you haven’t given to help Haiti, it isn’t too late. Whether it is one of these organizations or another one that is doing great work, now is the time to think about setting up a recurring donation to provide aid. Now is the time to start thinking about long-term recovery, reconstruction and rebuilding. The tiny island nation needs our support now (and in the coming months), more than ever.

-Sara Brueck Nichols

Rethinking Giving

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Last week, Amy Feldman wrote a compelling article titled, “Rethinking Ways to Give Wisely,” in Business Week. It covered some important ground, addressing the “ad hoc” nature that drives so much of charitable giving in this country.

There is no doubt we are experiencing a welcome and overdue proliferation of both awareness and proposed solutions to the question, “Where did my donation go?” The article listed resources including Charity Navigator, GiveWell, Philanthropedia and GreatNonprofits – all are valuable resources and represent important steps to more effective giving. These rating services have come a long way and now offer a much more accurate picture of what exactly it is a given charity purports to do. Further, they now offer more details that enable a donor to tell if that charity is in fact accomplishing its mission.

The author also makes a statement that was the catalyst for the creation of Operation Kids Foundation and likely other versions of philanthropic advisories:

Baby boomers have become used to getting advice on their finances, yet there are few places to turn for philanthropic advice for those giving less than $1 million. While increasing numbers of people have set up donor-advised funds, which can be a smart financial-planning move, these vehicles don’t answer the question of where to give the money for greatest effect.

We seek to answer this question for donors.

There is an underlying fact to this subject matter that should be drawn out:  the reason that these “rating systems for charities” exist is because in this country, our generosity exceeds our options in terms of advice and planning.  Donors are surrounded by solicitations on television, in the mailbox, online and via radio-thons. This abundance of solicitations coupled with our busy lives and generous nature, has something to do with the “ad hoc” nature of giving.

One of the top reasons people give for making a donation is simply the fact that, “I was asked!” It is natural to give on emotion, or to respond to a solicitation from a trusted friend or family member. It is even more common to give in reaction to crisis or disaster. But all of these methods lack specifics; they lack a plan. When we give in this way we often give small amounts to many different organizations. We don’t have time to track every small gift and we accept the good feelings we earn through giving and leave it at that. These characteristics have everything to do with the disappointment and frustration that can accompany charitable giving.

In our capacity as a philanthropic advisor, we meet daily with donors who have taken the steps to create structured and sophisticated vehicles for amassing and eventually (or gradually) dispersing charitable dollars, but who have given very little thought as to the intended result. What issues do they intend to address? Is this a family effort? Do they want opportunities to involve children or grandchildren and perhaps visit the areas of the world they impact? Is their focus domestic, or health related, or educationally driven—there are so many choices and so many subsets to each choice. And in the face of natural disaster it becomes doubly confusing: Is the donor interested in immediate aid or long-term recovery? What do they know about the charities they are considering? Is there a delivery mechanism for the aid?  Does the charity fully understand the government, culture and community they seek to assist?

These questions often go unanswered and in one of the sad twists to charitable giving, can lead to frustration rather than the expected fulfillment. This is in sharp contrast to the alternative of planned, measured and leveraged giving; that may be a new term to some but it is the simple notion that if you care about an issue, it is very likely thousands of other people do as well; imagine the impact of your combined giving! 

With the situation in Haiti reviving feelings we came to know all too well during the Tsunami and Katrina, it is wise to consider how we give. It is also wise to seek out all of the information you can find abut the charities you are considering. But remember this:  At then end of the day, charitable giving is a very personal process. There are precious few resources that can personalize your giving with your vision and objectives in mind, but they do exist. The options that may be available to you depend upon your assets and structure. Some charge a fee. As far as we know, we are the only one who offers those services as a charity.

I can promise you this; once you make a fully informed donation to an accountable charity that demonstrates efficiency and shows measurable benefit, you will never go back to an ad hoc method of giving.  

-Rick B. Larsen