Update: see our official page on Haiti earthquake relief, which consolidates advice from us and a few other sources we have high opinions of.
Reader Brigid writes:
“I would love to hear any thoughts you have on contributions in light of the crisis in Haiti. My sense is that now of all times is when people give significantly without due diligence into a charity’s impact and that donor have more illusions than generally (i.e., My gift is going directly to a hurt Haitian). It seems inevitable the news piece several months after the event when donors are surprised/angry to learn their gifts were not used as they believed they were.
- Is there any way for an average donor to help the crisis in Haiti right now? Is there a way to “capture” the generosity that these events inspire while still focusing on impact? Specifically to GiveWell: would your team consider focusing quick efforts on analyzing charities that are addressing the crisis in Haiti (i.e. would you shift your mission at this moment)? Or, would you say: despite the current crisis in Haiti, any contribution an individual donor wants to make will still impact more people if, for example, given to fighting tuberculosis through Stop TB Partnership.”
A few notes:
- Unfortunately, “disaster relief” is not an area we’ve researched. When we’ve (very briefly) looked into the cause of “disaster relief” in the past, we haven’t found substantive, well-supported, specific recommendations for where to give. More at two posts from May 2008, following the cyclone in Burma:
- According to the Disease Control Priorities Project, emergency aid is one of the worst uses of donations, despite being one of the most emotionally compelling. For more, see our post on the cost-effectiveness of disaster-focused aid.
- Our intuition then, as it is now, is that the most effective way to help those in need is to give to effective organizations. A few of our recommended organizations have a presence in Haiti: