Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why I haven't donated to Haiti's relief efforts

This post will probably make me unpopular, but hear me out.

I am very sad to hear about the tragedy in Haiti. Very sad. A loss of 200,000 or more lives is staggering, and the number of children left parentless makes me want to lie in bed cuddled with my son for the next week sobbing. And yet I haven't donated to the relief efforts. As someone who was the recipient of incredible donations, you might wonder why.

I believe that big relief organizations use these major tragedies as a way to stoke their coffers, if you will. We learned a very big lesson during the fire that just because you donate money to a relief organization for a particular cause doesn't mean that money has to GO TO that cause. A portion of it might, but... I thought that specifically ear marking it would make it so the money had to be used in that way, but I was apparently mistaken. I also learned that there are incredible inefficiencies with some of the major organizations (for example, we were asked what we needed most, and both Dan and I told them I needed mental health support because of my nightmares- two weeks later and no one had called me to even check in). I believe that many of these organizations have incredible resources at their disposal and are using the donated money to continue to build their money pool for future disasters. I actually don't think this is bad either, but the lack of transparency is VERY frustrating to me.

Relief organizations are also asking for cash donations over specific items. I *completely* understand this. I know the firemen were given a lot of things for us that they didn't know what to do with. They were fortunately able to turn the unclaimed items into a community yard sale, but it is a BIG job to sort and funnel items instead of cash.

One of the main reasons I am not donating to Haiti, though, is that I am trying to donate locally as much as I can. As I've written, the Boise Burn-Out fundraiser is on the 6th, and it is VERY important to me. The assistance that families need who lose their homes in the next few months is no less important than the major humanitarian disasters. Their loss may not be as unfathomable, but it is still incredible.

And a final note, we all seem to have very short memories for tragedy. These families and communities are still going to be hurting six months, sixteen months, six years from now. One of the best things we can do as a part of humanity is to send positive energy into the universe so that the Haitian nation can heal. (And once the immediate needs have lessened, send items of love (pictures, cards).


  1. I completely understand. I forgot where I heard it but someone was asking Americans to hold off on their donations now and wait for 3-4 months.

    Americans want to take care of things "right now" and forget about it in 1/2 a year.

    I definitely agree with helping locally as well. How can we pour all of our money and resources overseas when people right here need our help.

    I hope the fundraiser goes well!

  2. This makes a lot of sense. I remember you talking about this on FFF's site when the topic of donating formula came up. It's a sticky issue. We haven't donated either, mostly because I would rather find a specific way to help, like send a needed item or donate cash to an organization I know and feel good about. That and we haven't even been able to pay our mortgage this month! LOL

    That is so awful that you weren't given access to any mental health care for your nightmares. Too often we forget to take care of the minds of the victims of war, tragedies, an disasters.

    I admire your strength!

  3. I saw a VERY prominent ad at the mall today for the Red Cross, and it said in very big letters "DONATE TO HAITI EARTHQUAKE" but around it said something about donating to disasters "like" the Haiti Earthquake. I will reiterate that the money is not going directly to the victims who you believe you are helping.

  4. Wow, that's crazy. Thanks for bringing that to our attention!