Relief Effort Mathematics: Good intentions may hinder relief efforts
By Jennifer Browning
While medical supplies, food, water and non-perishable items are needed in Haiti, donating them directly to organizations, like Project Medishare/UM Global Institute might not be the best way to get them on the ground in Haiti according to an article posted this weekend on MSNBC.com.
The mathematics of donating favor cash according to Jeff Nene, a spokesman for Convoy of Hope, a Springfield, Mo. Nene urges cash donations because his group can then purchase supplies in bulk.
“When people give $1, it translates into $7 in the field,” he told MSNBC. “If they spend $5 for bottled water, that’s nice and it makes them feel good, but probably it costs us more than $5 to send it. If they give us $5, we can get $35 worth of water.”
This is not an isolated statement for Nene’s organization, NGO’s share this mathematical equation. Those who wish to donate, are advised to donate to NGO’s currently on the ground in Haiti because the funds will be used for relief efforts right away. Donors should look up the charitable organization by checking out the non-profit’s website or checking for their 501.3 status. GuideStar is a good place to start to check out the legitimacy of a charity or to check on their non-profit status.
Also, you may call the organization and ask to receive a fax or email with proof of the non-profit’s tax status.
Some organizations, like Project Medishare, have audited yearly financial statements online as well as annual reports regarding specific programs.
Relief organizations on the ground are also getting bombarded by uninvited volunteer organizations and boxes of unusable household goods. Misdirected compassion can actually place stress on scarce resources, costing time, money, energy — and lives according to Dr. Thomas Kirsch, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Refugee and Disaster Response.
Volunteers show up ready and willing to help, but many are ill-prepared. They have no bedding, no supplies or food. In this case, the effort towards goodwill, tend to cause more harm than good because these unprepared volunteers latch upon the NGO for basic needs, thus putting a strain on the organization’s efforts to provide necessary relief.
Those wishing to volunteer with Project Medishare and University of Miami’s Global Institute, should go to the Haiti Volunteer site to add their name to the volunteer database. Click here to put your name down as a potential volunteer.
The University of Miami is assisting Project Medishare in organizing volunteers for medical relief efforts in Haiti and are prioritizing needs by medical expertise and language skills. Currently, there is a strong need for nurses and orthopedic doctors.
Read more of MSNBC’s story Disaster do-gooders can actually hinder help.
If you would like to support Project Medishare/UM Global Institute’s medical relief efforts click here to make your tax-deductible donation.