TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Tess Vigeland: And finally, some financial advice that while you may have seen it all week in various media, bears repeating here. The unthinkable tragedy that befell the citizens of Haiti has most — if not all of us — asking “What can I do to help?”
Ian Moncaster: The best and most effective way to give in these situations is to give cash to an organization on the ground.
Moncaster is with the World Affairs Council in Seattle. And we asked him to talk about how and where our urge to give can make the most difference right now.
Moncaster: The immediate needs for relief are critical. So you need someone who’s got staff there, who speaks the language and can start putting your money to work the next day.
And which organizations can do that? He says the big names you know are the ones with systems in place for this kind of crisis. The Red Cross, World Vision, CARE. But while it’s important that aid gets to the country quickly, the earthquake’s aftermath will take months, if not years to sort out. If you can’t afford to donate money now, there are other options.
Moncaster: There are lots of ways in which you can help. If you yourself don’t have the resources, are you willing to work with a community group and go knocking on doors and say we’re raising money for this organization that’s working in Haiti, and this is why I think we think it’s important?
Of course anytime there’s a massive aid effort like this, there’s always the danger that people will try to profit by posing as charitable organizations.
Moncaster: There are people that are going to try and scam, absolutely. I think you can use the Internet to verify a lot. If someone comes to your door and says, “I’m raising money for poor Haitians,” say “Give me the Web site. Let me look at it on the Web site, and I’ll donate online.” The bottom line is that people in Haiti need help now. In many respects, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
He mentions the Internet and you may have also heard that one bright spot in all of this is the huge sum of money raised through text messaging. Millions and millions in relief money, most of it from people donating no more than $10. And just about every charity will tell you: Every penny adds up.
Moncaster: The ocean’s made up of lots and lots of little drops of water. No matter what it is, it makes a difference.
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