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On Giving to Haiti and Adopting From Haiti

February 5, 2010

Foof For Life Global Volunteers in Haiti

When Marji wrote about helping Haiti three weeks ago she mentioned that Doctors Without Borders had recommended not restricting your gift to Haiti. Best Friends posted a similar statement this week.

“The group collectively feels that the funds which have been donated so far will fit the need,” said Anna Gonce, senior manager for Best Friends’ Community Programs and Services division. She noted that people can still donate to Best Friends to help other animals toward a variety of programs and campaigns. Also, any funds previously donated to the Haiti effort are eligible (within certain guidelines) as deductions on 2009 tax forms.

Many people say that in addition to wanting to give to a specific program/disaster, they want to restrict their donations because they don’t want to give to executive salaries and other administrative (i.e., non-program) expenses. (On Charity Navigator you can see how much of an organizations expenses are allotted to fundraising and administration which, combined, shouldn’t be over 25%.) However, the reality of most organizations is that they are run as businesses and as such, people need to do the work of running them. If you approve of an organization’s mission and outcomes, and you don’t disapprove of the percentage (I prefer under 20%) spent on fundraising and admin, then that organization should be a fit for you as a donor.

GuideStar has a list of nearly 70 nonprofits currently working in Haiti. I know there are more because I don’t see the Church of Scientology on the list (no joke), nor do I see Food For Life Global. Charity Navigator’s nearly 80-organization list is composed of those with 3 and 4-stars and recommends giving restricted funds:

Designate Your Investment – Generally, it is best to trust your chosen charity to spend your donation as it sees fit. But with disaster related giving, you should specify that you want your donation only used to respond to this particular crisis.

Instead of listening to the second sentence of that advice (from Tips for Funding Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts), I suggest listening to the first, or if you are in doubt, call the organization you want to give to and ask them. Also, that list says “Do Not Send Supplies,” however, and this is particularly true here in South Florida, planes leave here all day, filled with supplies. Local organizations will ask for specific items and if there’s an organization near you that makes such a request, and you are so inclined, go for it. Just don’t buy what you think the people of Haiti might need or want; buy the specific items requested and package them as requested (often in a cardboard box).

Finally, “White ‘Savior-Afflicted’ Christians, Black Haitian Babies: This Won’t End Well” says it all, or at least a lot of it. But if anyone is interested in legally adopting a child from Haiti, and they haven’t been following this issue, the reality is that this is not the time and new applications are not being processed. Until a clear accounting of the toll this disaster has taken, and that could take months, it’s not even possible to begin matching children with prospective adoptive parents. Also, buildings and records have been destroyed and the infrastructure necessary for international adoption (which can take years in Haiti) simply doesn’t exist. I would also submit that Haiti has particularly strict requirements for adoptive parents, and until that changes (and perhaps this disaster will be a catalyst for that change), unless you are heterosexual, you have been married for 10 years, one of you is over 35, and you have no biological children, you wouldn’t qualify. (Some wiggle room is available if you can prove that you are infertile or you are a single, heterosexual woman who lives alone. One divorce is permitted.) If that wasn’t restrictive enough, Christians are given preference, and atheists, I was told, along with people from the Church of the Latter Day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses, are not eligible to adopt from Haiti. I guess you could always convert to Scientology if you’re an atheist; they’re not on the list of offending religions or lack thereof.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2010 1:40 pm

    That’s more on the adoption problem.

    • February 5, 2010 2:26 pm

      Hi Corvus, and thanks for the link.

      With regard to “fast tracking,” the original intent of that concept was for adoptions that had already been approved. The idea was to fast track the process by which the adoptive parents could bring the children to whatever country they reside in. I agree that any other fast tracking (i.e., through the process for new applicants) is undesirable and more important, Haiti is not allowing it, as it shouldn’t for numerous valid reasons, many of which are in the comments of the post.

  2. February 5, 2010 1:51 pm

    Vegfam ( feeds hungry people around the world, without exploiting any animals. They also provide emergency relief in a crisis. The founders created the organization because they weren’t comfortable with the animal use of Oxfam. I haven’t had a chance to check if they’re helping the people of Haiti. Their current list of projects tends to lag a bit. They are a small group, too. Though they have been around since 1963 helping communities grow sustainable crops and work on clean water projects.

    I was just wondering if you know of any other vegan organizations similar to Vegfam or Food for Life Global.

    • February 5, 2010 2:30 pm

      Thanks, MJ.
      Oxfam irks me. I know of only Vegfam and FFLG, but will delve further into the lists. I do know that several Hindu & Buddhist based orgs serve vegetarian (and maybe vegan) food, but food isn’t their focus.

  3. Nelly O'Neille permalink
    February 8, 2010 12:22 pm

    Millions have lost everything in the quake – homes, food, jobs! For the next 12 months, the World Food Programme says 2 million people will need critical food assistance! If you want to help and learn more about the crisis response, go to:> or you can text FRIENDS to 90999 to make a $5 donation.


  1. Disaster Relief in Haiti: Animal Rescue & Vegan/Animal-Friendly Resources » V for Vegan:

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