September 2017 Money Diary: Puerto Rico & Donor Fatigue

 
 
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Ivan here. 

When Jennie and I set aside $1,000 in 2017 for charity, our strategy was twofold: 

  • We would donate money to international causes (and time to domestic ones) due to the strong purchasing power of the dollar
  • We would NOT be basing our charitable decisions on the most recent headline

We managed to stick to this rule through Hurricane Harvey and Irma, storms which caused an untold amount of damage to parts of Texas and Florida. 

However, the fact remains that these are two of the wealthiest states in America, with economies that dwarf entire countries. What's more, both money and politics are deeply invested in these regions’ recovery. 

None of the above applies to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.


5 Reasons We Donated To

UNICEF's Relief Efforts For Puerto Rico


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We chose UNICEF USA for this quarter’s $250 charitable contribution for the following reasons: 

  1. Public ignorance on Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. territory
  2. Tougher logistics in providing disaster relief to islands
  3. Potential racial bias among donor class
  4. Lack of political and economic incentives to aid debtor nations/regions
  5. Donor fatigue after a string of related disasters

UNICEF USA focuses on providing emergency relief for children. And since our knowledge of local non-profits is non-existent, going through an international organization with a focused mission seemed like the least bad option. UNICEF USA was given an ‘A’ rating by CharityWatch. 


Why You Shouldn’t Donate Money to the American Red Cross


ProPublica, in collaboration with NPR, published a series of investigative pieces on the American Red Cross. Here are some relevant headlines dating back to 2014: 

It is important to note that this is NOT an indictment of the Red Cross's blood donation program, though chronic understaffing and cost cuts have led to safety violations and a FDA fine back in 2012. It might also be worth pointing out that this was an organization that banned black Americans from giving blood in the 1940s.