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Safe Donations to Victims of the Earthquake in Haiti

This article was written by in Charity. 11 comments.


Yesterday, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, with the center only less than ten miles from Port-au-Prince, the capital of the country. Of course, the news of the devastation has been everywhere in the media. Major landmarks have been destroyed by the disaster, including the Presidential Palace and the Port-au-Prince Cathedral. Haiti is a poor country and their own emergency services will not be able to handle the estimated deaths of over 100,000 persons.

Beware of unscrupulous scammers using this disaster as an opportunity to take advantage of well-meaning would-be humanitarians. Don’t respond to emails asking for donations — go directly to the organizations you trust. Donate only to well-established charities working directly in Haiti. Right now, unless you’re on a medical team planning to visit Haiti yourself, the best way to support immediate relief efforts is to donate to organizations focusing on water, food, and medical supplies.

Here are my suggestions.

On Twitter and Facebook, I have seen a number of messages suggesting people who wish to help relief efforts send a text message stating just “HAITI” to number 90999. A $10 charge will appear on your phone bill. This will function as a donation to the American Red Cross. I’m waiting for a response from the ARC to let us know how quickly they will receive donations via text message. I have confirmed the full $10 will be transferred to the organization without mobile phone companies taking a fee per message out of the donation. It’s important to know where your money is going and how fast it’s getting there. The ARC has also dedicated $1,000,000 from its International Response Fund to relief in Haiti. Donate to the American Red Cross International Response Fund here.

Update: According to National Public Radio, it could take an average of 90 days for the American Red Cross to receive funds donated via text message. If you want your donation to have an immediate effect, I suggest giving with your credit or debit card through the organization’s web site or phone service.

Update #2: Here is the official response from the American Red Cross:

100% of your text donation will support the American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti. The carriers and Mobile Accord will work to get the Red Cross these donations as quickly as possible. It can take anywhere from 60-90 days for the Red Cross to get these funds. Despite this delay in receiving funds, the American Red Cross will continue to provide relief in Haiti and these donations will cover expenses incurred after the fact.

Also, Sprint is charging normal text messaging fees for your donation while Verizon, T-Mobile and now AT&T are allowing these text messages for free.

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is responding to the destruction of hospitals and other medical facilities by setting up clinics. The city’s own resources are unequipped to deal with injuries and casualties. In the United States, first responders like firefighters, police offers, and emergency medical technicians show up almost immediately, but Haiti has no such structure. More MSF staff will be arriving in Port-au-Prince in the next few days. Donate to Doctors Without Borders here.

The World Food Programme is bringing food assistance to victims of the earthquake in Haiti. In addition to the WFP’s food stores already in Haiti, more food is arriving from El Salvador, enough to feed 30,000 people for up to seven days. Donate to the Friends of the World Food Program here.

Also, to locate American family members suspected to be missing in Haiti, call the United States Department of State at 1-888-407-4747.

Updated December 20, 2011 and originally published January 13, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Mrs. Money

Thanks so much for sharing this. My heart goes out to the people of Haiti.

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avatar SimplyForties

Thanks for posting this Flexo, and for Tweeting about it. It’s amazing how quickly scams spring up in the face of disasters.

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avatar FFB

It’s great that you are putting this out there. The organizations you listed are wonderful. It’s a shame people use a tragedy like this to prey on people’s emotions with scams!

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avatar Lor McLin

American Red Cross put this up on Twitter: Text “Haiti” to 90999 to donate. 100% of your $10 donation passes thru to @RedCross for Haiti relief. Your cell carrier keeps nothing.
http://twitter.com/RedCross

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

Thanks, Lor!

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avatar tom

“The public can also help by texting “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross, through an effort backed by the U.S. State Department”

ARC texting campaign is backed by the USSD

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avatar Liz

I would also recommend “Partners in Health” – Paul Farmer’s organization in Haiti, and the subject of the book “Mountains Beyond Mountains.” They do GREAT work and already have physicians on the ground and the trust of the Haitian people.

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avatar Financial Samurai

Awesome use of technology and telephony to help make a difference! Finally, the telecom companies are providing some real valued add!

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avatar Doctor S

thanks for helping make sure that people’s good intentions are not abused. Good work as always.

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avatar Khaleef Crumbley @ KNS Financial

OASIS for Children is an orphanage located in Beudet, Haiti. The building was completely destroyed, however all of the children are alive and sleeping in tents outdoors for now. You can donate directly to OASIS through their secure website (http://oasisforchildren.org) using PayPal. 100% of the donations will go towards the earthquake relief effort!

Flexo’s note: I am not familiar with this organization and cannot vouch for them. Please perform due diligence before you donate.

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avatar PAK

The Red Cross is rated much lower than other organizations. The White House is guaranteeing that 100% of donation through the Clinton-Bush Haiti Relief fund will go to Haiti Relief.

Even though I can’t stand Bush or Clinton, their feet will be held to the fire if they don’t follow through with their promise.

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