Don’t give money to Haiti?

So requests Felix Salmon. My first response was: what kind of a pre-transformation Ebenezer Scrooge request is that? Then I read the article.

To summarise Salmon’s argument: donate money to Red Cross, MSF, etc. But make it clear that this money can be used as Red Cross, MSF, etc see fit. Because MSF, for example, now has enough money earmarked for Haiti to support its work there for the next decade. Having funds that they can spend as they see fit is how they can respond immediately and massively to future crises, like they did in Haiti.

An interesting idea. I like this counter-intuitive thinking.

A friend of mine is the CEO of a charity. During a massive crisis a year ago, where their charity got a lot of PR, they received donations in a couple of months that exceeded their entire budget for years. Most donors assumed, my friend says, that the donations would be used to help in the current crisis. But it just wasn’t possible to spend most of the money immediately.

The donations allowed them to significantly and permanently ramp up and professionalise their operations. Next time there is a major crisis, the charity will be able to respond much better than before.