Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How You Can Help Haiti

It's sobering to think about the tragedy of the recent disaster in Haiti, when most of us would much rather just have shopping and our own petty problems on the brain. Bloggers like Fashion for the Economically Challenged have posted about their efforts to divert some of their "fun money" to charity-- a great idea indeed. Here at Thrifty Stylist Boston there has already been a (not well-adhered-to) ban on buying new clothes... but there are still holes in our wardrobe and we honestly believe we need the occasional Goodwill trip in order to get through the work week. But, because we're generally so frugal, we do feel in a position to donate to the aid effort. If you are able, here are some terrific ways you can give.

First, for the sake of a few PICTURES in this wordy blog, check out the new Etsy shop HeartsForHaiti, where over 1500 items have already been sold and another 900 have been donated so far to raise money for relief efforts. Proceeds are going to Doctors Without Borders, whose facilities in Haiti were destroyed in the earthquake and therefore need your help more than ever. Our favorite items include

This gorgeous embroidered skirt from Malam in Paris:

...and this beautiful tree print from TheHauntedHollowTree in Pennsylvania:

Work is coordinating an employee donation program with a corporate match (organized by a new employee-- ask at work if your company hasn't pledged to help and maybe they will do the same!). We will be donating the proceeds to Partners In Health, a "grass-roots" health organization that has already been working in Haiti for many years.

If you want to choose another organization, make sure you check it on a charity rating list such as Charity Navigator, so that you can be sure the largest percentage of your gift will reach the intended recipients. Contrary to popular belief, the American Red Cross is one of the lower-rated groups with only three stars (out of four).

Another terrific idea is to participate in a microloan program. You may have heard of Kiva, where you can pledge to donate or just lend $25 or more to help fund a specific entrepreneur and help to pull them out of poverty. With an incredible repayment rate (almost no defaults) and a "teach a man to fish rather than hand him a fish" mentality, it's one of the most exciting organizations around. While Kiva does not have any current loans in Haiti, check out a similar organization called FINCA, currently working in Haiti and rated four stars. One of the most fascinating features on the FINCA site is the "impact calculator" which allows you to estimate the prolonged benefits your donation may have.

Whether you save some of your shopping money or donate out of savings you already have, please make an effort to help-- Haiti is one of the most impoverished nations on Earth and will not be able to recover without massive relief efforts. If you've already donated please leave a comment sharing your favorite charity!

Happy helping!


  1. Happy to say I finally made a Kiva loan this year, although not, of course, in Haiti.
    I donated to the Red Cross after the earthquake, but, as you point out, that may not actually be the best place for our money. Beloved Husband was not impressed but I felt very much that I wanted to do something, and there was a danger I would get analysis paralysis if I waited to try to figure out the most worthy recipient.

  2. struggler, they are getting more money to where it belongs than i expected given the rating, and i think the immediate response is often the best one. i am more impressed than your dear hubby that you did SOMETHING! which we talk a lot about but rarely actually do.
    (like i said, i gave at work- no really- but am definitely going to do more.)

  3. Great post! I donated a small amount to Doctors without Borders and hope all of our donations are able to make a significant impact for those people, who are going through horrors most of us in our pc and internet-equipped homes truly can't imagine.


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