On Donations During Disasters

Obviously my thoughts are on Japan and the people there, but this is a practical matter that you should address even just in your head before you donate a penny to an aide organization.

When I’m thinking about making a donation for any cause I want to know where my money could end up.  After watching Live Aide and then finding out that most of that money ended up in the warlord’s pocket and the people continued to starve I just don’t trust NGOs.  There were celebrity studded donation drives after Katrina, the Hatian earthquake and 9/11, all over TV, pressing people to give, give, give.

I never did.  Well, not to them.  I’ll tell you why: I can not with certainty know where that money goes.  If I call up the hotline and give to the Red Cross does that money then go straight to Haiti?  And once it gets there where does that money go?  Who gets it to spend it on whom and what?

I’d be happy to give money directly to help cover the overhead for the USS Mercy while it is in port treating the wounded and sick and for fuel and travel time to and fro.  Where do I send that check?  It’s a Navy ship, so I can’t, really.

I make an exception with blood, I’d donate that to the Red Cross.  There’s only so much they can do with it and it really has to go towards emergencies.

Except Charlie Sheen’s tiger blood but that’s a different and far more disturbing story.

My preference is to give very specifically.  After Katrina I gave through my church to a related church in the area, my church also sent teams down to Louisiana and Mississippi to rebuild homes.  After the earthquake in Haiti I gave cash directly to a friend who had family in Haiti.  She got the cash to her mother who was caring for about 10 children of various family members, she was able to buy groceries and fuel with the money we collected.  Tomorrow I’ll give to my church where they will send it directly to a missionary we know in Japan who will be able to use the money to get supplies and necessities to people in the affected areas.

I’m sure there are good NGOs who offer aide.  However, looking at the bank accounts of men like Khadaffy and Mubarak, not to mention men like Mugabe and Baby Doc, I do not want to give money to any organization where it could possibly end up in the pockets of tyrants.  Today there aren’t tyrants in Japan, but can I guarantee that the money I give to an NGO will go directly to Japan?  No.

So my recommendation for giving in the aftermath of a natural disaster is to go through a church or to send money directly to someone you know.  Maybe you can’t always do that.  I would recommend  really looking at the organization.

On my “Oh Dear Lord, I’ll NEVER Donate To THEM!” list:

The United Nations.  Not one red cent of mine will ever voluntarily go to those idiots.
Any group that wants me to donate money by texting.  That is just way too easy a way to get some fool child to “donate” thousands of dollars of his parent’s money to some questionable outfit.
Any group that spends more than 10% on overhead and administration.

Just think about where your money goes.

In the mean time, I’m praying for the people in Japan, for the rescue workers and the grieving.

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