A number of Catalogue donors have asked us for suggestions about Giving during the crisis in Haiti. Three organizations with which we are familiar and in which we have confidence are:
All of them meet the criteria developed below.
We recommend a thoughtful, considered approach to international giving, rather than a hasty and impulsive one — even though everything around you is encouraging a hasty response. So here are some guidelines that we hope will help you make good decisions.
First, go to the website of the organization to which you are considering making a donation. Browse the site and try to find the answers to the questions listed below. If you have lingering concerns, do not hesitate to contact a program advisor, development director, or even executive director at the organization that interests you: before making a significant gift, a serious donor will likely wish to make contact with someone who has direct knowledge of ongoing programs and operations. Ask your questions, listen carefully, use your analytical skills, and don’t feel intimidated, even if you are new at this.
Here are some questions that may help you investigate a website or guide you in a discussion on the phone:
- How long have you been working in the area? Do you have an office or offices on the ground in the affected country? (This tends to be KEY to good distribution and knowledge of needs.)
- If you don’t have an office on the ground but are partnering with local organizations, who are they? What are they doing? What challenges are they facing?
- How much money are you trying to raise for this purpose? How much have you raised to date? If you are at or near your goal, do you plan to divert the money to other worthwhile projects outside of this region (which may be fine with a donor, but may not)?
- How can I designate my contribution so that it does go to the program or area I wish to support?
- What kinds of services do you supply? Are you there for emergency purposes only or also “for the long run”? If the latter, what do you plan to do after immediate needs are met?
- Are you ranked on any of the charity evaluator sites, and if so, what is your ranking? If not, can you say what percent of budget is spent on programs and what is spent on fundraising and other non-program costs?
Keep in mind your own interests as a donor. If you want to support immediate relief (i.e., water purification, food), girls and women’s issues, housing, employment, or restoration of the environment, you have the right to feel that your concerns matter. Find an organization whose work matches your interests and even, perhaps, your expertise. This will make you a better, more knowledgeable, more passionate donor who will likely create a better and more long-lasting relationship with the organization you choose.