While we’re on the topic of charities, it seems appropriate to note that this is a particularly opportune time to donate to an exceedingly worthwhile charity: Doctors Without Borders. They are doing amazing work around the world, and the current tragedy in Haiti is no exception.
Note that Doctors Without Borders (more generally known as Médecins Sans Frontières) is not the same as Doctors of the World (Médecins du Monde; now called HealthRight). It’s somewhat ironic, but the Doctors couldn’t agree about how to go about saving the world. So MDM split off in 1980 (and is roughly 1/40th the size). The critical issue was the degree to which “witnessing” was a part of their mission. On the one hand, if you want to be able to go anywhere that you’re needed, it’s wise to be explicitly apolitical. Your goal is simply to help the sick and relieve suffering. On the other hand, if you witness atrocities, it seems incumbent upon you to tell the world what has happened. If you are on the ground in the midst of genocide, is it really appropriate to stay silent? Both groups “bear witness” to atrocities, but MSF is more conservative, while MDM is more aggressive.
I think strong arguments can be made for both approaches, and I don’t think you can go wrong supporting either organization. As always, it makes sense to check out any intended recipient of largess on Charity Navigator. Both organizations get essentially identical, stellar scores (implying that the vast majority [~90%] of what you donate goes to people in need, and not to fatten the pay of executives, or into the pockets of Madison Avenue).
Haiti is a tragedy of epic proportions. Here is a way to help.