Thursday, January 14, 2010

Charity begins at home: in your brain

Because other people besides evangelical TV assholes are also evil:

Here is a list of at least slightly reputable organizations which are providing aid to Haiti
Personally, based upon past records, if you feel more comfortable giving to a longer-lasting bigger named institution, try:
American Red Cross
Catholic Relief Services
Doctors Without Borders
Lutheran World Relief
Partners In Health

Caution: Bogus On-Line Scams about Haiti (or anywhere else):
Haitian Earthquake Relief Fraud Alert from the FBI.

More advice on intelligent charitable giving:

1. During disasters, stick to the Oldies but Goodies, give directly to the charity, do your research, don't give to governments known to be corrupt. or in this case, already completely dysfunctional
2. Avoid "new" charity websites registered within 24 hours of the disaster.
3. Pick the charity which has the lowest overhead - i.e., the maximum percent goes to the actual cause, and not administrative costs (read: big salaries for American fat cats)
4. Call the charity and ask questions; never feel pressured to give right now. I assure you, your $20 will not matter if it's right now, or tomorrow.
5. It's your money; give it where you want.
6. Realize that the costs of disasters are looooooooooooooooooong. They will still need your money tomorrow. and the day after and the day after and the day .... don't give till it hurts. Give in smaller amounts over a longer time. This is all about cash flow.
7. Diversification might be good risk management for your 401k; it might not be for charitable giving.

Check out charity groups with other sources:
Charity Watch - rates national (not local) organizations, but the details aren't on-line
Charity Navigator - their tips & resources are well done

Some of these only rate national groups; e.g. Catholic Relief Services isn't rated by Charity Network because they're exempt from certain IRS reporting (because they are the international arm of the Catholic Church, not domestic);
similarly, the Archdioscese of St. Paul isn't rated by Charity Watch because it isn't a national organization.

Websites debunking urban legends or scams should also be considered, if you aren't familiar with a group trying to pry your cold, hard earned cash out of your pocketbook.

Charity Watch listed its top-rated charities serving Haiti: 4 of the 5 I listed above all have A ratings (the highest). The 5th isn't listed with them.

And, by the way ... I strongly recommend finding some charitable organization which supports something you like. And then give to them. Being a routine donor helps the organization plan its budget. Some places have a monthly donation on-going payment plan. e.g. Minnesota Public Radio does, with an option to make it an on-going donation, rather than an annual one. It cuts down on their administrative costs by not needing to pester me or remind me to give them more money. (Although last Spring I did promise to give them more money when I get a job again - - they laughed and said that if I keep giving them worthwhile advice, they'd count it even.)

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