Wyclef Jean Yéle relief: Is this best way to help Haiti?
After the Haiti earthquake, donations have poured into Wyclef Jean’s Yéle Haiti foundation. While the organization has been praised for good work, some experts say charitable giving should be focused on larger organizations with established emergency relief programs.
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Some smaller group's also do a better job than Jean's organization. Beyond Borders, a Haiti-focused humanitarian group based in Norristown, Penn., spent over 90 percent of its roughly $948,000 and $866,000 in annual revenue in 2008 and 2007 on programs. Hope for Haiti Children's Center, an Orlando, Fla.,-based group supporting Haitian orphans, spent about 85 percent of its roughly $1 million in annual revenue over the same period.Skip to next paragraph
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To be sure Bennett Weiner, COO of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, says that ratios don’t tell the whole story of a charity’s effectiveness.
“With ratios, there’s a certain difference in expectation for a very large organization to one that’s much smaller,” Mr. Weiner says. “That’s just a fact of how organizations operate, but that doesn’t mean that the smaller organization isn’t doing work that’s needed or working in a helpful niche that’s not being addressed.”
On Yéle's website, the group claims “100 percent of funds raised (will) go to the relief operation.” Claims such as this should be taken with a grain of salt, Weiner says.
“There are always going to be some overhead expenses — there is going to be a transaction expense for a credit card donation. So when those types of messages are made about 100 percent going [to a group’s work], even if the charity is getting its other money to pay for those expenses, the fact is the expenses are still there,” Mr. Weiner says.
When choosing a charity working in Haiti, Weiner says that prospective donors should first vet organizations online. Sites such as the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance site and CharityNavigator.org offer a wide variety of statistics and ratings of charitable groups.
Then they should consider the stage of the recovery effort — and keep attuned to it as the situation develops.
“This tragedy is not one that’s going to go away next week. It’s going to be a long-term recovery and there are going to be immediate needs that need to be addressed such as search and rescue and medical care but there are going to be long-term needs,” Weiner says. “There are going to be a lot of opportunities down the road as well and organizations are hoping that people will continue to give and not just move on to the next issue.”
Follow the Global News Blog for updates on Haiti throughout the day.