When you decide to make a donation to the disaster relief efforts in Haiti, here are some organizations that come highly recommended by colleagues of mine:
From their website: In an urgent email from Port-au-Prince, Louise Ivers, our clinical director in Haiti, appealed for assistance from her colleagues in the Central Plateau: “Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS… Temporary field hospital by us at UNDP needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us.”
From their website: Haiti Relief Fund Inc. goal is to solicit, collect, and otherwise raise funds to provide disaster relief; to collect and distribute medical supplies, food, clothing and other necessary items; to aid and assist exclusively the residents of Haiti and organizations doing humanitarian work in Haiti…
Yéle Haiti (donate link)
From the website: Our mission is to create small-scale, manageable and replicable projects to contribute to Haiti’s long-term progress. Yéle’s community service programs include food distribution and mobilizing emergency relief. (This group was founded by musician Wyclef Jean) Update, 1/14/10: After learning more information about the Yele organization, I am no longer endorsing it. Hopefully it will soon get its house in order.
I would encourage you to refrain from giving to larger, more well known national organizations such as the Red Cross. While these organizations tend to have access to a lot of money and material, they often lack a solid connection to communities in the greatest need. Much time is wasted in attempting to make connections with local, grassroots organizations who can match the greatest amount of resources to the greatest need in the shortest amount of time. Further, their assistance is often temporary, providing relief in the immediate aftermath, but due to the nature of their work they soon leave and move on to the next disaster zone.
Local, on-the-ground organizations are going to be there for the long haul. They most likely are or will be operated in part or entirely by individuals who are local and part of the community. They can better establish a partnership model of disaster relief, instead of a dependency model in which residents have to rely on outsiders for assistance (and will often have little or no say in what that assistance will be).
The above organizations are already established in Haiti, and will continue to be there with your support.