The rules are simple:
- Select a charity that is soliciting donations for aid in Haiti.
- Apply your HR and social media skills by doing a “background check” on that organization.
- Write up your findings, positive or negative, and post them on your blog no later than January 26th.
Sometimes, though, it is okay to color outside of the lines. So I changed the rules. I changed them because I didn’t want to pick a charity and research it. I wanted needed to find a charity that I could be comfortable sending more than a $10 text message to – and I wanted the best. The new rules?
- Pretend you are creating a new job position called Haitian charity.
- Undertake a needs assessment; determine the knowledge, skills, and abilities the charity must have to be successful and worthy of “hiring”.
- Research charities until you determine the perfect candidate.
- Hire the candidate charity by writing your findings in a blog and sending them the most sizable donation you can muster.
Experience is the usually the best teacher, so I looked back at the Indian Ocean tsunamis of 2004. I studied white papers, blogs, and news articles to see what I could learn about the effectiveness of charitable organizations in dealing with that disaster, and what types of problems all charitable organizations faced (examples here and here ).
After that research, it became clear to me that those non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that already had operations running in the affected area were the most efficient and effective performers. These NGOs already have committed people on the ground, have overcome language and culture barriers, have established contacts and connections with local vendors, and will remain engaged with the country on a long term basis. This became my main requirement for my charity: Long term commitment to Haiti that preceded the January 12 earthquake, evidenced by established operations.
The next skill is pretty basic: how much money goes to actual operational support, as opposed to administrative and fund-raising expenses? Research showed me that an organization that spends 80% of the donations it receives on charitable programs is considered efficient, while 90% is considered highly efficient. I always want the best I can get, so my additional requirement became: Program spending of 90% or greater.
FINDING THE CANDIDATE
One of the most important tools I used to research and find the ideal charity candidate was Charity Navigator. Itself an independent, non-profit that helps evaluate and promote charitable giving, they were so helpful that I found myself donating to them after finishing my research. There were many four-star rated charities with long-term Haitian ground operations, including Save the Children and Medecins Sans Frontieres (the international parent of Doctors without Borders). In the end, I decided on Partners In Health/Stand With Haiti.
Partners In Health(PIH) has been working on the ground in Haiti since 1985. Their Zanmi Lasante (“partners in health”) project in Cange, Haiti is a community based health project that has grown to include 8 facilities in central Haiti. They are devoted to providing medical services to Haitian poor. PIH believes that health care is a right that should be available to everyone. Their vision is “whatever it takes”:
|The PIH Vision: Whatever it takes
At its root, our mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone. When a person in Peru, or Siberia, or rural Haiti falls ill, PIH uses all of the means at our disposal to make them well—from pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services. Whatever it takes. Just as we would do if a member of our own family—or we ourselves—were ill.
Almost 95% of their funds go to program expenses. If you go to Charity Navigator and look at the salaries of their top executives, you will understand why they are able to devote so much funding to their programs.
I wanted the best, and I think I found it.