1. Don’t give to big organizations indiscriminately.
A quick Google search of some of those organizations’ names + Haiti will result in articles that disclose six (!) houses were built with billions of dollars, and single-digit percentages of money that actually reached the Haitian people. If you do choose to donate to a relief organization, be sure to research the organization thoroughly to determine what percentage goes directly to aid and whether there is transparency and accountability in the organization’s finances.
2. Don’t give emotionally.
Give rationally, consistently, and for the long term. $20 a month over 10 years to put someone through school is far better than $200 right now for disaster relief. Why? Because it’s more money, because you’ll still be invested 30 days from now, and because it’s building something that will last. Besides, lots of other people will be texting some number to give money to disaster relief, anyway. They’ll be covered.
3. Don’t volunteer to travel to Haiti unless you have a special skill.
If you’re wanting to do disaster relief, that essentially means a stethoscope. Haiti doesn’t need more painters or builders. If you come to do that, you’ll take someone’s job away from them. Take the money you would have spent traveling and give it to an organization that will use it wisely. Otherwise, come here as a tourist (seriously—tourism is great for the economy).
4. Don’t send things to Haiti unless it can’t already be bought here.
You know what a box of free shoes means in Haiti? Someone gets a free pair of shoes and someone else who sells shoes for a living goes hungry. Be smarter than that.
5. Don’t be reactive, but proactive.
You know what Haiti needs help with more than this storm? The next storm. How can you leverage what influence you have to get infrastructure developed before the next Hurricane Matthew hits? You might not think you have any influence, but if you have a heart for doing this, the Lord might open your eyes and open a door.
Having a heart for the poor is easy. A mind for the poor takes work. Oh, and just in case you were wondering about the reporter who claimed deforestation in Haiti was caused by hungry children eating the trees, I assure you that Haitians don’t eat trees. That would be foolish, as well as physically impossible.