As you have (or should have) heard, the tiny Caribbean nation of Haiti has been hit with an earthquake that has left it reeling. Already impoverished, this nation is facing not only the biggest disaster in its history, but something on par with the 2004 Asian Tsunami, which affected an entire region.
You want to help, but you don’t have millions to donate to a cause. What can you do?
Text and Tweet
Text “HAITI” to 90999 in order to make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross. Already, the Red Cross has raised over $3 million from this campaign (as of the morning of January 14th). Retweet the Red Cross to get your friends involved.
Throw an Event
Having a birthday? Tell people that you’d like donations as a gift. Or, if you’re really motivated, consider throwing a party in honor of the cause, both to spread awareness and to accept donations.
Do It With Friends
Experience the power of numbers by creating a giving circle in which multiple people donate to the same cause. Go to charitable events together and pool together your money for donations. The Giving Circles Network can help you find giving circles in your neighborhood.
Go for the Merchandise
Many local retailers are jumping in by donating part of their proceeds to the Haitian relief cause. For example, Pi, a St. Louis pizzeria, donated 10% of all sales to relief on January 13th. On Etsy, an artist plans to donate proceeds from paintings to Haitian causes, including Partners In Health. Keep your eyes open and your heart big.
Make Sure It’s Legit
Donate to a charity with experience in international crisis aid. To find approved charities, visit Charity Navigator, the American Institute of Philanthropy, and the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. Note, however, that many legitimate charities don’t appear in these databases, as there are simply so many. Some of our favorite international aid programs include the Red Cross, the World Food Programme, Doctors Without Borders, and Save The Children.
We particularly like supporting non-profits that work on the ground in Haiti, as they often have the best sense of the social landscape. Plus, they tend to have broader perspectives on Haiti’s development in a historical context, and support local efforts rather than only international aid that sweeps in during crises. One of our very favorites is Zanmi Lasante, Partners In Health, which plans to “leverage the skills of more than 120 doctors and nearly 500 nurses and nursing assistants who work at Zanmi Lasante’s sites.”
As long as you’re financially stable and not in debt, LearnVest suggests that you aim to donate roughly 3% of your salary to charity every year. If you are financially able and haven’t yet done so, consider this your kick in the butt.
This disaster has special resonance for LearnVest, as our very own staff member visited Haiti in December. Read these November dispatches below, from our friend who is working in a Haitian clinic in a town called Thomassique (which felt the earthquake but, luckily, was relatively unaffected):
Tell us: How do you plan to help?
Image credit: American Red Cross/Flickr