Haiti Earthquake Relief – Now and Later: January 26, 2010

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Haitirelief_photo1Over the course of the past 13 days we have been consumed with sadness and concern for the people of Haiti. Since our last communication with you, we have received numerous requests from our donors for distributions from their funds to several agencies. They have been extremely generous! To date, more than 60 fund advisors from The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta have contributed more than $250,000 in 80 grants to more than 20 separate organizations.

The Current Status of Haiti

As the days continue, the numbers rise. Reports vary but increasingly we hear that between 150,000 and 250,000 people were killed during the earthquake. It is estimated that more than 250,000 people are homeless in Haiti and are living in makeshift tents where sanitation is almost non-existent. And we know that many of the injured may not survive because of the inability to access necessary medical care.

While recovery efforts continue, as of January 23, extensive efforts are being targeted toward intermediate and long-term relief, including rebuilding the country.

What You Can Do to Help

Reports we’ve received from nonprofit leaders in Haiti indicate that many organizations are on the ground providing assistance. Their requests are to provide generous financial support to organizations with current capacity and presence in Haiti. Recent articles in the media highlighted below reinforce the need for donors to give smart to strong and effective nonprofits and focus specifically on providing dollars as opposed to in-kind goods. Additionally, donors are encouraged to consider donations to efforts to rebuild Haiti given the long-term needs of the country.

Teaching Americans What Haiti Needs: Money(New York Times)
Focuses on the need for financial contributions as well as the challenges nonprofits face with in-kind contributions.

Three Steps to Making Smart Haiti Donations(New York Times)
Provides an overview of tips for smart giving to nonprofits working in Haiti.

Amid flood of donor-fund assets for Haiti, a plea to stay the course(Investment News) Reminds donors of the long-term support Haiti will need around rebuilding and how we can help.

Efforts to channel Haiti donations pay off(Financial Times)
Highlights the improvement of nonprofit coordination and money management during disaster relief.

Update from Nonprofits in Haiti

Below is a list of recommended organizations (several of which were featured in our previous email), the services they’re providing and an update on their efforts. The organizations have been reviewed by Foundation staff and are segmented based on their primary focus areas.

As you consider organizations to contribute funds to, The Community Foundation recommends that you focus on organizations that will have an impact—those organizations with the capacity to address the critical needs on the ground.

If you are a donor of The Community Foundation and would like to make a gift from your fund, please log on to Donor Central viawww.cfgreateratlanta.org; or contact your philanthropic advisor: Audrey, Rob, Erin or Barrett at 404-688-5525.

Medical Assistance
Key organizations providing medical assistance include Americares, American Red Cross, Direct Relief International, Medcins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders and Partners in Health. A local organization, MedShare International, already has delivered 5 shipments of 5,000 boxes of needed medical supplies.

Oxfam International and UNICEF are working collaboratively to deliver water. Oxfam is currently focusing on 80,000 people living in seven camps across the city. Immediate efforts include installing latrines. In the coming days and weeks, they will initiate a “cash for work” program—paying people from Haiti to help clean the community, allowing residents to earn money (per Caroline Gluck, Oxfam).

World Food Programme is taking the lead on food distribution. They are working with UNICEF to provide nutrition to children, in particular.

Habitat for Humanity International has planned a multi-phase strategy including early recovery as well as mid- and long-term responses. The Reconstruction and Recovery phase includes replacing destroyed homes and building core homes, transitional shelters and Habitat Resource Centers. International Rescue Committee (IRC) is focusing on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living outdoors without shelter. In the coming weeks CARE indicates that they will focus on distributions of high-energy food, tents, blankets, mattresses and first aid kits.

UNICEF and Save the Children are two key organizations focusing on the needs of the children of Haiti. Save the Children continues to deliver supplies, and has launched local radio broadcasts to support newborn and infant health. Save the Children has also established child-friendly spaces, providing activities for thousands of children.

Many have inquired about adopting children from Haiti. Our understanding is that adoptions that were in process prior to the earthquake will be expedited, and that the primary focus will be on family reunification for children who were not in the adoption process before the earthquake. Local organizations includingFamilies First and Bethany Christian Children’s Services will be sharing information with individuals and families interested in learning more.

The Salvation Army has operated a school in Port au Prince for many years. The organization reports that it will re-open a school in a temporary site at the organization’s compound in Port au Prince. Corps members will offer day-to-day schooling and support for children between the ages of three and six.

In addition to the above-mentioned organizations, we recommend support ofThe Lambi Fund of Haiti. The Lambi Fund is a United States based grassroots organization and is a country specific organization described as a second responder, focused on efforts to rebuild Haiti.

Tax Benefits for Charitable Contributions

Finally, we want you to be aware of recent legislation providing income tax benefits for contributions toward Haiti earthquake relief:

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, and Thursday, Jan. 21, the House and Senate, respectively, approved a House bill to accelerate the income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti, H.R. 4462. The bill allows taxpayers to deduct on their 2009 tax returns charitable cash contributions made by March 1, 2010, to Haiti earthquake relief, and also allows those who texted their donations through cell phones to qualify by using their phone bills as proof of donations. President Obama is expected to sign the measure quickly. This accelerated tax deduction applies only to cash gifts made directly to charitable organizations involved with earthquake relief in Haiti. Donors may continue to recommend gifts from their donor-advised funds for such relief, but the tax benefit will not apply, since donors already took a tax deduction when the original gift to their fund was made.

Please note
: The Community Foundation provides advice about investing in nonprofits in our Atlanta region and beyond, and during times of crisis we make an effort to share information with our donors in an efficient manner. Nonprofits mentioned have been reviewed by Foundation staff. This list is not exhaustive, and we encourage our donors to share any additional ideas for review with your philanthropic advisors.