From Mariana Nissen/UNDP via Creative Commons
Economists with the Inter-American Development Bank estimate that the full cost of rebuilding in Haiti may come close to $14 billion — making the January 12 earthquake the most destructive in modern history. A sad superlative to see applied anywhere in the world, but especially bitter for a country already struggling with poverty, ecological deterioration, and political turmoil.
A month after the earthquake, a giant recovery effort is underway. Assistance has come from governments, organizations and individuals in every part of the globe. On February 18, five weeks after the disaster, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported U.S. organizations working on relief and reconstruction had received $774 million in charitable donations. Large amounts of private and governmental assistance have come to Haiti from many other countries as well.
Pathways to volunteer to help with the recovery are becoming clearer; Idealist’s Erin Barnhart offered a round-up here recently. For businesses and individuals with the capacity to offer in-kind donations that might be useful, there’s a long list of needs compiled from requests by nonprofits at work in Haiti.
Many knowledgeable voices urge, though, that the absolute best way to help the recovery efforts is to donate cash to an organization with the capacity to put your money to work immediately on high priority needs in Haiti. The United States Better Business Bureau has advice about what to look for (and what to look out for) when thinking about helping with a cash donation, along with a list of organizations that meet the BBB standards of accountability and are already at work in Haiti.
One final note: If you haven’t prepared your tax return yet and are considering itemizing deductions, a special rule will allow including donations made for Haiti relief during 2010 on the return due April 15th — but only if the donations are made before March 1st (the IRS explanation is here). Of course, any qualifying donation made now can be deducted on Schedule A in 2011, so this is not an all or nothing deal…just a little extra nudge.
[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]