I got it in my mind to make a small donation to Haiti relief efforts, but I didn’t want to simply find the nearest paypal button associated with the word “Haiti” and send off my money. I wanted to avoid a scam, obviously but more than that I wanted to put the money in hands who would use it wisely in relief efforts and not see it swallowed up by administrative or fund-raising costs. I personally don’t want to pay for a TV spot asking for more money. I also figure a few other people might find themselves in my situation so I decided to provide highlights of my research.
I turned to a tool that you’re probably familiar with. CharityNavigator.com. (Actually I’ve never heard of it either but when I typed “charity” into google it had “Charity Navigator” as the first choice in auto-complete so someone is familiar with it.)
Conveniently for us, (though unfortunate for Haiti as it bears testimony to the state of affairs there) there are already charities existing specifically to help those in Haiti. One of those is “Hope For Haiti“. It has a professional looking website, which is always a plus and Charity Navigator gives it 4 stars. 98.2% of it’s money goes directly into it’s charitable programs. Additionally they have assests in excess of 1.6 million dollars, yet their executive director, George R. Drobinski, is only salaried at $53,000 (0.85% of expenses). So it seems as though I maybe already found a winner. But I’ll keep looking.
Caribbean-Central American Action is also highly rated. But their numbers aren’t nearly so impressive. Only 89.9% of their money goes into programs, which is still decent I suppose, but they have two people making in excess of $100,000! (This from a charity who only has $189,000 in assets and a 100k budget deficit this year) Anton Edmunds the Executive Director and CEO is pulling in $102,000 (3.85% of expenses) and their President, Manuel Rosales is making a whopping $124,500 (4.70% of expenses). I don’t like those numbers much at all. UPDATE: in regards to C-CAA I received a comment telling me that their leadership has greatly changed. Neither Rosales nor Edmunds are currently with C-CAA I’m told. Hopefully their new leadership isn’t salaried at what those two were. The C-CAA website still lists Edmunds as the executive director and CEO, but I’m told this is because he only recently resigned. Thanks for the info.
In case you’re curious about the American Red Cross, they only received three out of four stars. This probably has something to do with their $480 million budget shortfall, but they do have 90.1% of their money going into their programs and their president and CEOs salary is only 0.01% of expenses. So that’s something. But their expenses are huge and he’s making $565,000. $565,000 for running a charity with almost a 500 million dollar deficit. Something’s not right there. ARC is especially a poor choice if you’re donating to help a specific nation, or victims of a specific disaster. You never know where your money will go with them.
The Haitian Health Foundation scores pretty well (4 stars) and the numbers look good to this layman. Program expenses of 91.3%, assets of $15 million, no budget deficit (not close) and their executive director, E. Marilyn Lowney, only makes $71,900 a year (1.22% of expenses).
Hope for Haiti Children’s Center has a great name, who doesn’t want to help kids? But I don’t particularly love the numbers. Charity Navigator gives them 4 stars, but their program expenses are only 84.5%! That’s the lowest I’ve seen. They have a little over a million dollars in assets, but they only avoid a budget deficit by $12,000. That’s cutting it close, but at least it’s not a deficit. Danita Estrella, their president and founder makes $65,080. That’s not a huge number but it is 5.85% of their expenses. That’s a large number.
All of these charities are good in the sense that they aren’t fraudulent. Avoiding a scam is the biggest reason I started this little research. So how do you spot a bad charity? Forbes has an article on that, specifically with the Haiti disaster in mind. It’s pretty simple stuff. I disagree though when they say avoid someone you’ve never heard of. I think you should seek out somone you’ve never heard of. Do a little research on them (it’s easy) and then proceed. I personally do not like the big charities. The ARC numbers spoke for themselves and I just think they’ve lost sight of who they are. So that being said, use this information. Use the information from Charity Navigator and GuideStar. Use advice from the Forbes article. Use your own personal experiences and common sense. Put it all together and decide for yourself where to send your hard-earned money. Just don’t send it to this guy. I’m going with Hope For Haiti.