Pledge to Red Cross for Haiti Reconsidered

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October 26, 2010; Source: Miami Herald | The NPQ Newswire has touched on the slow flow of donations to Haiti several times. Many government and charitable donations were promised after the earthquake devastated the poor nation on January 12, but many remain unfulfilled. The city of North Miami collected $116,000 on behalf of the Red Cross, but the money has been sitting in a city government bank account since March.

The city apparently decided to sit on the money after news that the Red Cross spent only a quarter of what it received for Haitian relief, perhaps a high-minded reason not to hand the money willy-nilly to the oft-criticized Red Cross. The city plans to decide how to disburse the money by next Tuesday, having received proposals from nonprofits in New Mexico, New York, and Massachusetts as well as South Florida for cuts of the Red Cross money.

At least three of the eight South Florida groups aren’t yet 501(c)(3) organizations or at least don’t seem to appear on the IRS’s charity database (two appear to be nonprofits that have shut down and closed up shop). One of the three Florida groups is the five-month-old One Help One Haiti Ministries, whose president admits that it hasn’t received its 501(c)(3) approval from the IRS.

The Red Cross for its part isn’t particularly happy with the city, suggesting that it “deceived donors” by raising money for the Red Cross but not turning it over. The city says it might allocate some of the funds to the Red Cross, but that doesn’t mollify them. The president of Nord Ouest Environmental counters that the city’s approach will allow smaller, grassroots nonprofits to access funds that generally go to “the big companies . . . no matter what.” One doesn’t have to be a fan of the Red Cross to agree with them at least to some extent—it’s not considered best practice in fundraising to raise money for a group but direct the donations elsewhere.—Rick Cohen

  • Keri Kae

    Have there been other reported accounts of this kind of behavior?

  • Terry Trainor

    The Red Cross has for many years collected vast sums of money for one disaster or another, then diverted the money elsewhere.
    Pay-back is a booger, isn’t it?

    If you want your money to go to the people that NEED it instead of to overblown operating budgets and inflated salaries, give it to the Salvation Army. Plus, the Salvation Army has NEVER sold food and other relief supplies to disaster victoms, which is something the red cross cannot say.
    http://www.noredcross.homestead.com

  • Sue

    The Red Cross has been a major failure in Haiti and I salute the City of North Miami for doing this. The American Red Cross collected over 450 Million for Haiti and has spent less than 50% of this amount. The balance is sitting in interest bearing accounts and all interest goes to the general fund and not to the cause for which it was donated. I have been following this since January and unfortunately the same is taking place at other large NGO’s. I say give it to the grassroots people. I’ve seen what they are doing and they put the American Red Cross to shame.

  • Lisa Vives

    Haiti’s central problem is its monied class which pays little to no tax, pushes tent cities off of its lands, and can step over the poor and dying of cholera with aplomb. Has anyone see the pictures of the nightclubs with the $8 beers going full blast? The U.S. government enables them and Rene Preval’s regime – that’s at the heart of the problem. Would water be so polluted if the Haitian elite had to drink it?

  • Mark Poletunow

    Why not consider trying Help Brings Hope for Haiti (www.HBHH.org), a small but effective Tampa based 501(c)3. I have no affiliation with the organization other than seeing the results of their on-the- ground extremely low-overhead efforts.

    From their recent posting: HBHH team returns from trip to Haiti. Donations for Cholera outbreak needed. Chairman Patricia Eddy, Vice Chairman John Laurent, and new Executive Director Sr. Christa Rowe recently took a trip to Haiti October 22-24, visiting Fort Liberte, St. Suzanne, Cotelette, and Port-au-Prince. In response to the curent outbreak of cholera in the Artibonite region, HBHH has been offered free air transport for any medicines and supplies to help with this outbreak. We are accepting donations of IV fluids, Cipero, Tetracycline and Doxycycline, or funds to help us purchase these supplies. Contact us at 813.832.HBHH(4244)