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Digital Fundraising Booms For Haiti Relief

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the hitting-large-markets dept.

The Almighty Buck 124

It seems that a recent digital fundraising drive for Haiti relief has stunned organizers at the Red Cross and White House. As of the last tally on Friday the campaign was at well over $8 million. "Earlier Thursday, when the Red Cross topped $3 million in text and social media donations — it hit nearly $40 million from all sources by late Thursday — spokesman Jonathan Aiken described it as 'a phenomenal number that's never been achieved before. People text up to three times at 10 bucks a pop,' Aiken said. 'You're talking about roughly 300,000 people actually spontaneously deciding, "I can spare $10 for this." And that's remarkable.' As of late Thursday, more than half of all donations to the Red Cross's Haiti relief effort had been received online, according to a news release.

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124 comments

well done, humans. (3, Insightful)

antimatt (782015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30783858)

it seems i may have underestimated you.

Slave fire sale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30783968)

I could use a crate full these days...

Re:well done, humans. (1)

Shatteredstar (1722136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784186)

These are the things that restore a few bits of my faith in humanity. I work a help desk job so I go up and down on my faith but these stories always give it a boost and make me wish a "reboot" of the world that much less.

Re:well done, humans. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30784296)

Ggggggggggggg AAAAAaaaaaaaaaa YYYYYYYYYY yyyyyyyyyyyy

Re:well done, humans. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30784424)

Those "donors" are going to be surprised when they get the bill. Muuaahhhaaaahhaaa.

And I doubt many will challenge a charitable donation transaction when they receive the bill. ;)

Re:well done, humans. (0, Offtopic)

david.given (6740) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784878)

$40 million dollars is a lot of money, and will do a great deal of good in Haiti. It's great that people are willing to donate to help people --- goodness knows they need it, and we can all spare it.

But to put matters into perspective, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is spending that amount every three and a half hours (based on the Congressional Research Service figure of $2 billion a week [wikipedia.org] , which comes out to about $12 million an hour).

You are human as well. (1)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785332)

I think you are lying.

pointless... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30783866)

haiti needs complete rebuilding not temporary relief which will vanish once the earthquake new disappears from the front pages. it needed that much money and more before the quake even hit. not it needs demolition and rebuilding not quick fixes and temporary aid.

Re:pointless... (3, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784286)

Uh, they need things like water *yesterday*, but I'm not sure if any amount of money can get the basics they need in time, only so many flights can land at the airport per day (and they can't fly in the big boys like the C5 Galaxy) and the port has no cranes to unload ships. Supplying water to ~3.2M people is a huge order even with nearly unlimited resources, for instance the Nimitz class carrier the navy brought to the area can make ~400k gallons of fresh water a day, but that's just a drop in the bucket compared to what's needed.

Re:pointless... (1)

tiberus (258517) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784610)

haiti [sic] needs complete rebuilding [...]

From what I have heard on the news about the status of building safety I would agree but, they need aid first. Let's not put the cart before the horse here. Haiti needs a lot of things and they all have a priority.

Uh, they need things like water *yesterday* [...]

Keep in mind all the 'aid' that was rushed into the areas devastated by Katrina... Truck loads of clothing and food that rotted in place as a result of little to no planning on how to get the aid to those who need it. I fully understand the desire to rush in and save the day, sadly that is most likely to result in wasting time and effort and can make things worse.

Re:pointless... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784778)

There has been no water service since the quake, that means no water to clean the wounded, no water to drink, no water to clear human refuse, etc. That's a very serious problem and waiting is *not* the thing to do. An average male in good health can only survive about 7 days without water in the ~90 degree conditions in Haiti right now which means a LOT of those 3.2M people are going to start dying soon.

you don't understand Haiti (2, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30787136)

Most people didn't have water **before** the quake. The same goes for electrical power. It's only the well-to-do Haitians (probably having relatives in the USA to send money) who are experiencing this for the first time.

Lots of Haitians normally use the "flying toilet". You poop in an old plastic bag, step outside, and throw it as far as you can. I am not kidding. It's popular in Kenya too.

There is a reasonable argument that Haiti is better off than a place like post-Katrina New Orleans. No running water? Cool, the house didn't have a sink or toilet anyway!

Re:pointless... (1)

AirDave (188249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784930)

The USAF is flying is using C-17s to fly in relief supplies. They are not exactly small. Their payload is 170,900 lb (77,519 kg) of cargo according to Wikipedia.

Given the limitations of the airport capacity, this looks like a great opportunity to show the capabilities of the V-22 Osprey. With a range of nearly 900 miles, they could fly from Florida and land in helicopter mode virtually anywhere in Haiti. With aerial refueling, they would not need to take on fuel in Haiti, which is another scarce resource.

Re:pointless... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785016)

I think flaming Osprey fuselages are the last things the Haitians need landing on them. Might want to use something more reliable.

Re:pointless... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785136)

Uh, that means a C-17 can fly 20,000 gallons of water, to supply the 10 quarts of water per person per day needed to double their survival time to 15 days you would need over 450 flights a day. I doubt the airport can support that many unloads a day.

C-5 Galaxy can do it, not that you need pavement (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30787084)

You get 9974 feet (3040 meters) of asphalt in Haiti.

You need 8400 feet (2600 meters) for a C-5B to take off. That fits, and you'll be leaving empty anyway. You can knock 30% off of that if you use a C-5M.

Landings are even easier. They take only 3600 feet (1100 meters). You could do one on each end of the runway if you dare.

Finally, remember that this is a military cargo plane. It has lots of giant low-pressure tires. Plain dirt will work as long as you don't mind bulldozing/grading the ruts out of it after every flight.

BTW, all the other military cargo planes can land on dirt as well, and you can usually skip the bulldozer or grader because they don't dig in as much as the C-5.

Re:pointless... (1)

RDW (41497) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785002)

'haiti needs complete rebuilding not temporary relief which will vanish once the earthquake new disappears from the front pages. it needed that much money and more before the quake even hit. not it needs demolition and rebuilding not quick fixes and temporary aid.'

Haiti desperately needs both immediate relief and longer-term help. Several of the aid organisations now responding to the emergency already have long-term commitments to Haiti. One I happen to know about is Oxfam:

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/oxfam_in_action/emergencies/haiti-earthquake.html [oxfam.org.uk]
http://www.oxfam.org.uk/oxfam_in_action/where_we_work/haiti.html [oxfam.org.uk]

They make efficient use of donations, with only 10% going on (essential) running costs, and work directly at a local level rather than just dishing out the cash:

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/faq/other.html#admin [oxfam.org.uk]
http://www.oxfam.org.uk/oxfam_in_action/what_we_do/binmyth_slideshow.html [oxfam.org.uk]

The low amount and high publicity is key (2, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30783874)

It is easier to get 4 million people to give $10 then it is to get 4,000 people to give $10,000. But it takes a wide spread publicity campaign, which the networks are giving away for free. By the way, if every person in the world sends me 1 penny (just ONE penny) via paypal to me at gurps_npc (at) hotmail.com, then I will be very happy.

Re:The low amount and high publicity is key (-1, Offtopic)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784010)

Paypal charges 30 cents per transaction, so you'd end up with nothing.

I gave one hundred. I'd give more if the government had not sucked-away almost $25,000 in taxes last year.

Re:The low amount and high publicity is key (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784164)

I don't believe you. I think you would just have bigger TVs, extra car, maybe some sort of boat or recreational vehicle. Or would have gone on an extra vacation to a nice sunny beach in the Caribbean.

Re:The low amount and high publicity is key (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784326)

Actually I'm anti-materialism, so I have zero interest in cars, TVs, or other junk. Hell the computer I'm typing on was built in 2002! Instead I'd probably follow in Benjamin Franklin's footsteps, save the extra ~$25,000 per year in my bank, and then retire when I'm circa 40.

After that I'd just tinker around, trying to help people wherever I could.

BTW it isn't "the government's money". They didn't sweat and labor to earn it. I did.

Re:The low amount and high publicity is key (1)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 4 years ago | (#30786218)

But you love your Commodore 64 ;)

Re:The low amount and high publicity is key (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30786254)

BTW it isn't "the government's money". They didn't sweat and labor to earn it. I did

Of course it was all your own work. You were driving on your private roads on the way to work, flying your privately air-controlled jetways if you have to, using your private security forces to keep order handle fires and other disasters. Of course you didn't see a lot of disasters because your building codes and city management prevented and minimized them. You must have bailed out your own bank, and used the internet which sprang from your privately created DARPA-net to post your slashdot comments.

All on your own. Must have been a pretty big task. Congrats they _should_ give you "your money" back.

Re:The low amount and high publicity is key (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784970)

Actually, I would pay off debt. Trust me, I've lived with debt and without, and am MUCH happier without the debt.

Re:The low amount and high publicity is key (2, Informative)

Maniacal (12626) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784420)

My wife called me this morning and say she was going to donate so I gave her the texting number to do it. She said no to the texting because she wanted to give $100. It was uncomfortable for me at first. We are far from rich, have a mortgage, 4 kids, etc. But it took me about 15 seconds and I was on board. It wasn't her convincing me because she didn't try. It was me looking inside and being ok with it. $10 would be easy for us. $100 will cause a little discomfort. I'm ashamed at myself that it took me 15 seconds to realize that our discomfort is nothing compared to what those people are going through.

Re:The low amount and high publicity is key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30785054)

You pay as much in taxes as I make in a year after taxes. You have my pity. It must be so hard to survive on so little.

I donated $100 also.

harnessing emotions (1)

yali (209015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784386)

It's not just the amount (though that's part of it). Technology is allowing people to give easily at the very moment that they're seized with the urge to help. Used to be you'd have to go find your checkbook, a stamp, look up an address to send to, etc... which requires a sustained intention that lasts longer than the emotional impulse. Now you just text HAITI to 90999 and instantly satisfy your desire to do something. That makes a huge difference in turning noble motivations into action.

Re:The low amount and high publicity is key (2, Informative)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785992)

By the way, if every person in the world sends me 1 penny (just ONE penny) via paypal to me at ***lotsofburpspaypalaccount***, then I will be very happy.

If everyone sends ANYONE a penny via paypal - paypal will be happier than you.

Re:The low amount and high publicity is key (1)

trjonescp (954259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30786248)

By the way, if every person in the world sends me 1 penny (just ONE penny) via paypal to me at gurps_npc (at) hotmail.com, then I will be very happy.

From: service@paypal.com

Your payment for $0.01 USD to gurps_npc@hotmail.com has been sent.

let's follow the money (1, Insightful)

NetNinja (469346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30783880)

Is there a way to follow all this money closely. One slip up in mismanagement and this phenomenon is history.

Re:let's follow the money (2, Informative)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#30783944)

Yes there is a way to follow the money. I'm 95% certain that the Red Cross is still using Raisers Edge to track their fund raising. It's a trivial matter to generate a campaign report that details who gave the money and what fund it went to. As far as tracking it from the fund to actual recipient, I think you're going to find that it gets wasted in the same way most charitable donations get wasted. Well over 50% of the money gets consumed in administrative overhead.

Re:let's follow the money (1)

nairnr (314138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784120)

I call Bull Shit... If you take a look at one example [bbb.org] it details the administration expenses as 6% of fundraising. True that is one chapter, but saying 50% of donated money goes to administration is totally unfounded.

Re:let's follow the money (5, Informative)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784192)

I think you're going to find that it gets wasted in the same way most charitable donations get wasted. Well over 50% of the money gets consumed in administrative overhead.

The redcross is not most charities; they have a very good reputation for low overhead. Katrina lost only 9% of your donation to overhead: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Red_Cross [wikipedia.org] . The red cross is one of the few charities I still donate to because of their low overhead costs.

And GP, the red cross has been around since before 1900 and whatever slip ups they might be accused of, people are still donating.

Re:let's follow the money (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784600)

If they won't take my blood they can't have my money. Apparently anyone who has spent 6+ months in Europe has a level of culture too high for the average American to deal with during a transfusion.

That and their CEO makes $565,000/year, plus they spend about 11% of their intake on overhead and took a $100 million government bailout.

Re:let's follow the money (1)

Sprouticus (1503545) | more than 4 years ago | (#30786430)

Except they initially misappropriated money from the 9/11 donations

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/rc_blinks.html [consumeraffairs.com]

Try the clinton foundation. Bill is a sscumbag...err I mean politician, but I honeslty believe he cares about Haiti

Re:let's follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30784264)

Actually, it is under 10% for the Red Cross:
http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/corppubs/FY09FinancialStatement.pdf

True, it depends on one's definition of administrative - I suspect it would be higher if you included nurses administering shots for instance.

I believe you are looking for The United Way (15-20% overhead by having the umbrella charity) or one of the scam charities.

Re:let's follow the money (2, Informative)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784316)

I run the Interactive department for one of the key non-profits involved in this effort. We've been working around the clock since the earthquake to set up online donations, informational pages, disaster-coordination tools like haiti.ushahidi.com, and mobile giving. 100% of the money is going to Haiti, starting tonight (as credit card transactions have cleared.) No one is taking "administrative fees."

Re:let's follow the money (1)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784520)

Mod parent up! However, while I trust Red Cross and other serious institutions, I am a little bit skeptical about the use of the money. To be more precise: when the resource is given to local authorities. Living in a developing country, I tired of seeing money and othe donations vanishing in all levels of local administration. This seems to be especially true during the "reconstruction" stage after disaster, when it is easier to hide corruption in false contracts with contractors.

Re:let's follow the money (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784488)

Uh, most 501c3's operate with an overhead between 5 and 15% with a total average of 13.6% according to this [allbusiness.com] paper I found with a quick Google. The Red Cross appears to have higher than average expenses at 18% of funds raised, but only ~10% of total expenses (non-donations account for the discrepancy) according to this [bbb.org] .

Re:let's follow the money (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785080)

While it is true that most charities waste a lot of cash 50% is high. It is ALSO true that it is fairly easy to get a report on charities and figure out how much money they waste. Check the internet, and I see a Forbes report. As per Forbes, the average charity wastes 16% of it's cash on overhead. The redcross wastes 9%.

Re:let's follow the money (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785408)

As numerous people have pointed out, the 50% figure was way off base. I was just eluding to the point that just because the Red Cross sends ## million dollars of aid to Haiti doesn't mean that the Haitian's are really getting anywhere close to the full 100% of those millions.

Administrative overhead isn't the only drain on a donation. There are huge logistical costs involved in just about any sort of relief effort. Sending $10 worth of food to a place like Haiti might end up costing $100 once you include administrative, logistical and other associated costs. Again before people freak out, I'm not trying to suggest that it really costs $100 to send $10 worth of supplies to Haiti. I have no idea what it costs. I do know that it isn't free.

Re:let's follow the money (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784002)

I assure you that someone, somewhere is getting rich(er) from millions of 'administrative costs'. That's why I never give money to any charitable organization that has a salaried staff. You need people to do the job of course. But they should be given room & board, a small living stipend for basic expenses, and never, ever, have their income determined as a percentage of the take.

I've seen posting on Craigslist for positions with non-profits paying 50K a year or more. Not exactly a towering wage to be sure, but also not where I want my money going.

Re:let's follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30784208)

Woo, 50k a year. That's less than the median salary in the US. Spendy!

Re:let's follow the money (5, Insightful)

xirusmom (815129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784344)

So, my question to you is: Can you volunteer full time, half time? Specially right know, who can afford to leave their jobs for weeks to go to Haiti to volunteer full time?
10% overhead is a very reasonable figure if we cannot bother to get our butts out of the couch and go there ourselves.

Re:let's follow the money (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785280)

I could do full time if I got a place to sleep, food to eat, and a little money for personal items. The only thing that keeps me here currently are the two small children I am responsible for. But most of the childless folks in my peer group did exactly that during Katrina: they quit their jobs and spent a year+ volunteering. I donated quote a bit of money to them because I knew they were not doing for the money. There is no reason to think they won't do the same thing for Haiti; that's just the type of people they are. I would go too were it not for my kids.

Re:let's follow the money (1)

xirusmom (815129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785816)

So do I. And that is the reason I am happy to donate money as long as the organization use it wisely.
There are a lot of NGOs who do a great job even, if they are paying some of their people. And working for one of them is usually a big pay cut from what one would get on private companies, so you will get committed people even if you are paying them a salary.
Of course, there are the ones with 50% overhead as well as scammers, but that is our job as donors, to do a decent research before giving any money.

Re:let's follow the money (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784408)

Charitable organizations, like any organization, need permanent staff to operate efficiently. You might get college kids to work for you over the summer for nothing but room and board, but no one will work for you on any kind of long-term basis for that. If you want long-term employees, particularly skilled employees, you have to pay for them. Sure, they might work for you for less than they could get in the private sector (and many do), but they still need money to feed their own families.

Saying you refuse to give to any charities because there may be some amount of waste in them is just a way for you to rationalize your own selfishness. The fact is these organizations do far more good than any of us would be capable of or willing to do on our own. Because we won't or can't go out and dig new wells in Africa or help rebuild houses in Haiti or any of the other things these charities do, we give money to them to help them do it instead. They in turn hire people who know how to do this stuff in the most effective and efficient way possible.

Re:let's follow the money (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784438)

That may or may not be an especially good idea.

There are definitely "charities" that, even if not total scams, spend far too much on paying their CEOs and executive directors and so forth, and sending them on important fact finding missions to poor(but pleasantly sunny) places. You definitely want to avoid those.

However, the point of a charity is not to assemble the greatest concentration of self-sacrificing moral goodness available; but to turn donations(in dollars or in kind) into results that match the stated goal of the charity. The measure of a charity's efficiency, and thus its worth as a possible donation recipient, is determined by how efficiently it does so. There are most likely some cases where volunteers are, in fact, the most efficient means. There are others where expensive experts are, in all likelihood, the most efficient.

You donate to a charity because you want your money to effect its goals, whether the goals are pulling people out of the rubble, vaccinating children, reducing unplanned pregnancies, filing FOIA requests, or whatever. Why judge them on how they distribute their resources, rather than on how efficiently they achieve their results?

Re:let's follow the money (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784474)

There is less waste when you give to non-profits who have salaried employees, because they know what they're doing. It is far more wasteful when you are relying on volunteers who may or may not show up, there are no defined divisions of labor, there are no communications systems, etc. That's what happened after the tsunami, which didn't have the non-profit infrastructure, and most of the food and supplies that were donated rotted at the ports and airports because there were none of what you called 'highly paid' salaried nonprofit workers to distribute it.

Re:let's follow the money (1)

Bertie (87778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784830)

Some of that money's going to be wasted, you need to accept this. It's utter chaos out there and the people that need help the most are not always going to be the ones that get it first, simply because it's harder to get it to them. There are going to be warehouses full of supplies with nobody to distribute them. Somewhere else there will be people ready to give out aid parcels but their supplies won't have turned up. That's just the nature of the beast. Relief efforts like this are really hard and necessarily imperfect.

But don't let that put you off helping out. Give what you can. Even if it doesn't all get through it'll still make a difference, which it's most definitely not going to do sitting in your wallet.

Doctors Without Borders/Small Dog Electronics (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30783882)

Small Dog Electronics, an Apple Specialist (and a darn fine one at that) matched customer donations, up to $200 per customer, and will be sending over $20,000 to Doctors Without Borders in the coming days! Check them out, smalldog.com. Good people.

where is the fucking paypal link ? (-1, Flamebait)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30783892)

digital drive, texting, sms, there is no goddam paypal link to donate for many of us. hey. red cross. catch up with the times.

I got your link right here, pal (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784244)

Incidentally, any nonprofit [thepaypalblog.com] can get a fee waiver:

**ALL organizations collecting for disaster relief in Haiti are eligible to receive fee waivers. Please send an e-mail to nonprofit@paypal.com for fee waiver consideration.

Too bad they don't mention this on the http://www.paypal.com/ [paypal.com] page.

Red Cross? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30783914)

Yeah, how much of that money will actually go to helping the people in trouble?

A vast percentage of those donations will go to "infrastructure" costs (ie. inefficiencies, waste, and profiteering). I have first hand experience with how they work. Shameful.

Re:Red Cross? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784546)

90% of fiscal year 2008 expenses went to program costs, 4% to fund-raising, and 6% to administrative expenses, so 90c of every dollar you donate go directly to the people they serve. (source [bbb.org] )

This will not treat the true cause (2, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30783950)

While I can certainly agree with donating to charity to help people who have hit unexpected hard times, the root cause of the scale of the crisis is the sheer fact that the country lives in pre-industrial conditions under an oppressive, corrupt government [wikipedia.org] , which ultimately means that massive numbers of people are living in concentrated areas, in buildings unfit for handling disasters. An earthquake of the exact same magnitude - or greater - in an equally populated area of the US, would have suffered a fraction of the casualties. So ultimately, the cure to their woes is not foreign aid, but more individual freedom, less government corruption, and the development of industry and improvement in living standards, which will culminate in safer buildings and residences.

Re:This will not treat the true cause (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784584)

Dude, it's the poorest place in the hemisphere, the freaking presidential palace collapsed for gods sake, there IS no money to support proper building standards. The only areas largely unaffected anywhere near Port au Prince were the hills where the houses were basically sitting directly on bedrock, any soil that could undergo liquification did so and basically none of the buildings were anchored to the bedrock since that's very expensive.

Re:This will not treat the true cause (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784694)

You're absolutely right, but it's not that clear-cut. An analogy can be drawn to Africa where giving countries food and water doesn't solve any of the root problems, and can even foster dependencies, making the root cause even worse. Still, the inexorable wall every organization or individual has to face is that there's no point fixing the long run if everyone is going to die of starvation and lack of medical care within the week. Sure, we'd all like to change their government, build infrastructure, and up their standard of living, but not at the cost of lives right now.

Re:This will not treat the true cause (3, Insightful)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784842)

I will get modded to hell for this but as someone who is of Haitian decent and has family there right now the true cause of the corruption is bribery from states, corporations and even the IMF. The rice riots are a perfect example [counterpunch.org] When the IMF loaned much needed money to Haiti it came with requirements that they open the country to "Free Trade" (Many Haitian politicians got their palms greased in this deal then left the country) when that happened American corporations flooded the market with cheap food which sounds great at first but when you consider the fact that the majority of the population made its living as farmers it doesn't sound so great. Farmers either lost their businesses or were forced into what amounted to virtual slavery for corporations who conveniently had money to lend them in their hour of need as long as they grew the crops (which were largely inedible) that the corporations wanted. Now you say "It all worked out great the farmers now have jobs, everything worked out for all parties!"

WRONG, the corporations paid the farmers pathetic prices for their crops because they were desperate and with agriculture being the only means of earning a living everyone in the country turned to farming, they tore down every tree in site in order to use every bit of land so they could earn enough just to survive. The worst part about this happened much later, with large areas of land in Haiti virtually treeless due to over-farming, Haiti got pounded by hurricanes three years in a row. With no trees to hold the ground into place when there was flooding large areas of land simply washed away killing thousands.

If the world really wants to help Haiti we need to do three things....

1.) Forgive much of Haiti's debt
2.) Lift all of the ridiculous restrictions that came with the debt
3.) Restrict foreign corporations and states from meddling in the country's politics

Sensible (1)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785358)

I hope (not pray--I'm atheist) your family is well. It's clear they were in bad shape before the earthquake.

How? (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784978)

I agree. Poverty is a due to a mindset of not respecting property. You get out of poverty by working to create things of value (wealth) and having a mentality where you don't steal or destroy wealth. But I have no idea how you can teach that to people. I have the same problem with the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan. We are smart enough in this country not to let our military run the country and to make our government as weak as possible. But then we want to install a powerful government in these other countries to keep the people under control. I agree with the isolationists. The best thing we can do is mind our own business and lead by example. If people are impressed with us they might try to copy our ways.

Re:This will not treat the true cause (1, Flamebait)

BearRanger (945122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785060)

I beg to differ with part of your claim. All parts of the US are not equally prepared for an earthquake. A large earthquake on the New Madrid fault anywhere near St. Louis or Memphis will likely result in mass casualties, in spite of efforts in recent years to improve building standards. Those old, historic and largely brick downtown sections will be most vulnerable. And let's face it, it's not the number of casualties that trigger the charitable response anyway, although that's a contributing factor. It's the ongoing suffering of the survivors. Not that ongoing suffering did much for the hearts of many Americans in light of hurricane Katrina. When I hear the comments of idiots like Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh I have to wonder why the Haiti and New Orleans disasters are different from, say, the Indian Ocean tsunami in how much we're supposed to care or how much as a nation we should give...

Great coverage on Boing Boing (2, Informative)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30783956)

I donated to Mercy Corps the old fashioned way, by entering a credit card number into a website.

Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin has posted some interesting stuff on Boing Boing. It seems that enough of the high-techie infrastructure survived to allow people to keep in touch and look for lost relatives:

The internet is a vital form of communication, as are cellphones—when they work—and she is seeing people in Haiti using social networking services as a means to try and locate missing loved ones within Haiti. The environment is so chaotic and roads so badly damaged that even in-country, mobile technology and web-based social networking services like Facebook are playing a vital role in the reconnection process. Don't assume that because Haiti is so poor, nobody's using the internet. She says cell service has been spotty, with certain carriers performing better than others. She connected to us using WIMAX, and the degree to which that service has performed during the disaster makes her a real believer in the promise of that particular wireless technology.

AIDG's Catherine Lainé, live from Haiti (BB Video) [boingboing.net]

Update from Doctors Without Borders team in Port-au-Prince [boingboing.net] (Cool inflatable MASH-like field hospital!)

Interest Side Note - Trouble Getting Donations Out (4, Interesting)

wbav (223901) | more than 4 years ago | (#30783980)

A second article states that it usually takes 90 days [www.ctv.ca] for the donation to be transferred.

While the phone companies are looking at how to speed this up, am I the only one who believes that this would be a good way for some banks to earn back some credibility? It seems like they could give the Red Cross a 90 day loan to give them the money today, at 0%. Makes them look really good.

Re:Interest Side Note - Trouble Getting Donations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30784038)

A second article states that it usually takes 90 days [www.ctv.ca] for the donation to be transferred. While the phone companies are looking at how to speed this up, am I the only one who believes that this would be a good way for some banks to earn back some credibility? It seems like they could give the Red Cross a 90 day loan to give them the money today, at 0%. Makes them look really good.

Sorry that was a typo, it should have said 30 days. Same link though.

Re:Interest Side Note - Trouble Getting Donations (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784728)

No, you were right, 30 days was for Canadian charities; the 90 day figure was for "some" American ones.

Re:Interest Side Note - Trouble Getting Donations (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785076)

Isn't this the way the Red Cross typically works?

They pay for the current disaster from their general fund, and donations go into the fund for the *next* disaster. That way, when something like this happens they don't have to wait for people to begin contributing before they can spring into action.

I mean, I can understand your concern, but on the other hand-- if Red Cross had that money in-hand right now, would they be able to do more than they are already doing? I'd wager they're more limited by the inaccessibility of the country than anything relating to cashflow.

Re:Interest Side Note - Trouble Getting Donations (1)

deprecated (86120) | more than 4 years ago | (#30786272)

It would make them look good but they aren't going to do it because they don't need to look good. They don't give a rat's ass about anything except next quarter's margin.

Now that Technology has caught up (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30783984)

If people were willing to vote for American Idol, they would probably be willing to donate to AID using the exact same services.

I think it was just a matter of not being able to pledge money through your phone so effortlessly and efficiently. Giving your bank account info to some aid organization over the phone was more expensive and time consuming. Plus they take money monthly and not everyone wants to cover Red Cross' Paycheck unless they are actively working on an emergency like this one.

So now what excuses would you have left besides being a cheapscate? Especially if you spend more money texting reality TV shows every other week anyways.

Re:Now that Technology has caught up (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784736)

Exactly. It's the same reason why people started to buy music online a lot once it became convenient to do so. Ditto for the popularity of services such as Steam, etc..

In general, if you make parting with one's money as easy as a few clicks / button presses, you tap directly into "impulse spending", driven by emotion of the moment. I've been reading about the consequences of the earthquake in a newspaper at lunch, saw the photos and the estimated death toll, and then noticed the phone number for SMS donation - so I whipped out my mobile and texted it right there. If it involved more effort than that, I'm not sure how long it would take me to get to it, if I ever did at all.

People rule (0, Troll)

mmklein (1125523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784012)

So does one local company here in Vermont - Small Dog Electronics. They matched donations, up to $200, and will be sending over $20,000 to Doctors Without Borders in the next few days! They're good people too! www.smalldog.com

And how many won't give? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30784016)

Shouldn't this money be collected by the government through taxes instead? It would be more efficiently spent and everyone that can give would be made to give. Wouldn't that be more fair?

Re:And how many won't give? (3, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784494)

You want to use guns to take money away from people and give it to other people, according to your whims, and that's what you call "fair"?

You can help too (1)

el_jake (22335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784076)

Donate and Help the Médecins Sans Frontières International MSF
http://www.msf.org/msfinternational/donations/ [msf.org]
Or Unicef, so many children need help at this moment... So many are either alone or hurt.
http://www.supportunicef.org/site/pp.asp?c=9fLEJSOALpE&b=1023561 [supportunicef.org]

Apparently I donated 24 times last year (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784096)

Re:Apparently I donated 24 times last year (-1, Troll)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784170)

I don't know about this past decade, but most of the "aid" money sent to Haiti by the United States (and probably also France) in the last century was propping up a US-installed military dictatorship. Don't believe anything Limbaugh says about foreign aid; he is consistently factually wrong and he is also human trash.

Re:Apparently I donated 24 times last year (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784246)

That was sarcasm. I remember what Bush did to Aristide and Powell trying to explain to the press why if we didn't depose a democratically-elected President, why Aristide couldn't go back to Haiti when he said he wanted to.

Re:Apparently I donated 24 times last year (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784330)

I couldn't tell it was sarcasm right off the bat because it sounds too much like something my father-in-law would say with a straight face!

Re:Apparently I donated 24 times last year (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784858)

Didn't read the link, huh? That's OK... don't. It's a belligerent blog entry that can be summed up like this: "Rush Limbaugh is an asshole and hates Obama so much he's willing to let Haitians die." It's not true, of course, but we get the kind of media we deserve.

CHaritable donation (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784128)

Since this is a charitable donation, in the U.S., is there some way to get it counted off taxes? It is via phone, how do you show those records?

Re:Charitable donation (1)

wbav (223901) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784178)

Does your donation represent 1% of your annual income? If so, then I guess you could use your phone bill, printed out. That said, I have a hard time believing someone only makes $1,000 a year or less would have a cell phone.

Re:Charitable donation (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784688)

Huh, I just add up all my charitable donations and add it to the appropriate line on whatever schedule it is put on. I keep all my receipts for such things in case I get audited so I would just keep a copy of the phone bill showing the donation. There is no requirement that the donation total 1% of your income.

Re:Charitable donation (1)

wbav (223901) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784816)

That must be my misunderstanding then. I thought all deductions required passing 1% of your annual income. I may be wrong though, it has been nearly a year since I looked at the tax rules.

Re:Charitable donation (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785620)

If your contributions are less than $500 in noncash value or any amount in cash you use 1040 schedule A, otherwise you use Form 8283. For any single contribution over $250 you need "a contemporaneous written acknowledgment" though a receipt should satisfy that requirement for a cash donation.

Re:Charitable donation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30784742)

I own a corporation and I only pay myself $1000 a year. I thought being my own boss would be great but despite my repeated requests to myself, I have refused to give myself a raise.

Re:CHaritable donation (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784254)

Print off your statement.

Re:CHaritable donation (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784936)

I don't know how you guys have it set up in the States, but here in Canada, the non-profits who set up a similar donate-by-SMS scheme have also made a website where you can go and print out a receipt, specifically for tax purposes. You may have something like that as well.

and the money won't even go to Haiti (1)

Yo Grark (465041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784334)

Red Cross is notorious for only spending what they feel they need to. In other disasters only 10% of the money donated ever reached the actual disaster, and of that, there was a huge overhead.

Sorry folks, just not worth it. Do a little digging first, there are MUCH better charities out there that have a LOT more (or all!) of the money you donate going directly to Haiti.

Yo Grark

Re:and the money won't even go to Haiti (3, Informative)

KenSeymour (81018) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784826)

These people seem to disagree with you. To get on this list, 75% or
more has to go to program services.

http://www.charitywatch.org/hottopics/Haiti.html [charitywatch.org]

Re:and the money won't even go to Haiti (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784922)

As an example of an alternative, I gave to americares.org. They get an excellent Charity Navigator rating.

As for the Red Cross, the fact that they only spend what they think they need to is not necessarily bad in my book. It means they'll have money & supplies for the lower profile problems they tackle. If they can't efficiently use all they are given for a particular problem, I'd rather they don't waste it.

Re:and the money won't even go to Haiti (1)

Giranan (762783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784932)

Citation needed, buddy. That's one huge accusation to make without something to back it up.

Proud to be American (2, Insightful)

sponga (739683) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784360)

At times like these it really makes you proud to be an American to see the great amount of donations going out even in this terrible economy and good to see people have sympathy for others.

Donations by private Americans a lot of the time donate more than a lot of countries combined but make sure you donate to a reputable charity because online fraud is at an all time high after incidents like these.

I have two family members who are R.N.'s and a neighbor on wait with the Orange County, CA disaster team, cash is one of the best things you can donate because it costs so much to transport the material.

UPS is shipping anything for free under 50lbs
$4 million so far donated to the Salvation Army by text
$8 million donated to the state department by text
and now I am sure the Red Cross will step it up with this

Re:Proud to be American (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784892)

Anti-American troll coming in 3... 2... 1...

Re:Proud to be American (1)

BearRanger (945122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30785486)

Proud to be human. Americans of course qualify too. But many countries are offering aid, even though the American media devotes little time to that fact. Check out the pictures in this CBC story for a brief sampling. http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/01/15/haiti-earthquake.html [www.cbc.ca]

Re:Proud to be American (1)

sponga (739683) | more than 4 years ago | (#30787104)

Yeah no doubt, especially the French for their quick response time as they had some of the first crews on the ground. But not much can be done until the U.S. military brings in the heavy hardware and they are the ones who have great majority of C-17's to transport cranes, generators, water purification, etc..

Americans get a lot of crap around here and they seem to dwell on the bad news a lot around here, it just needs to be put into perspective that the U.S.A.F and Navy are the ones who will be doing the heavy hauling.
Army Core of Engineers and Seabees will have that place turned into a full operation within no time, military can do some things right and efficient besides killing. Although if they don't get some security in there soon it is going to be anarchy and Haitian gangs are not known to be polite with their machetes.

I think some of the other countries were a little in over their heads when they started overloading the airport with planes and only when they unloaded the rescue crews did they realize there was no fuel and anymore space to land aircraft. What makes it worse is they have to literally reshuffle around everything to accomidate the U.S. Air Forces C-17's to bring in fuel and heavy lifting cranes.

I know for a fact they delayed one of the top teams in the world here the Los Angeles County emergency response team, about 12 hours was wasted waiting on the ground before they could get some of the best equipment in the world to deal with collapsed buildings and vital supplies. The entire Orange County response team is also on wait and it is just so painful to see all this equipment that should be in there helping.

Painful though to watch as some errors are being made and thousands of lives are being lost because of it, the critical 72hr period is what they always tell us.

As a citizen of a 3rd world country (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30784414)

I would suggest that if you decided to donate money, do it thru Red Cross (which I choose), Unesco or any multinational organizations. Do not give it to embassies of the country, if they have asking for donations too. If you do, chances are that the money will not only not help the desperate people who need it, but will make even richer the usually corrupt local government.

Text 'haiti' to 90999 (1)

warrior389 (314070) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784632)

Text 'haiti' to 90999

I can't believe its not in the article or been edited to go in the summary.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/01/14/cashmore.haiti.earthquake.relief.technology/ [cnn.com]

Also this was on Colbert last night

Re:Text 'haiti' to 90999 (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30784838)

The above information is for U.S. In Canada, "haiti" can be texted to 45678 - that will go through Salvation Army.

Re:Text 'haiti' to 90999 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30784846)

I agree with your implied suggestion that The Colbert Report must've had something to do with the sudden surge, yesterday.

Personally, I do my best to ignore mainstream media, but can't help watching Stewart and Colbert. I think a lot of other people do, too.

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