Keep the lines and internet sites busy. Donate to reputable, experienced, knowledgeable Canadian aid organizations that already have operations in Haiti such as the members of the Humanitarian Coalition (http://www.thehumanitariancoalition.ca/) or Doctors Without Borders Canada (http://www.msf.ca/) Here is an article on the outpouring of support by Canadian donors.
Canadian generosity for Haiti quake victims overwhelms charities
Donations crashing Internet servers as people and government scramble to help stricken land
Richard J. Brennan OTTAWA BUREAU
OTTAWA–Canadians are opening up their hearts and wallets so quickly for disaster-relief efforts in Haiti that some agencies are having a hard time coping with the outpouring of support.
“They’ve actually managed a few times to cause the (Internet) servers at our online donation processing company to (crash) and the call centres have had trouble dealing with the call load,” Kieran Green, of Humanitarian Coalition, told the Toronto Star Thursday.
The coalition includes Care Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam Quebec and Save the Children.
“It literally has been overwhelming,” Green said, adding that not since the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 have Canadians responded with such fervour.
The servers were soon back up and the coalition was pleading with Canadians to keep trying.
Médecins Sans Frontières reported the same massive response, and said it had to hire outside help to keep its server from crashing.
World Vision, which launched campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, says the number of donations being made were 10 times the usual.
The government announced earlier it will match individual charitable donations up to $50 million to help Haitians recover from their worst earthquake in 200 years.
“All Canadians have their hearts broken, everybody has seen the devastation in Haiti. I think that everyone is really affected by this. And I know that Canadians, one and all, want to help,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.
As well as money – Ottawa has already committed an immediate $5 million – Canada has responded by sending ships and large aircraft with food, equipment, personnel and security forces.
HMCS Halifax and HMCS Athabaskan set sail from Halifax on the five-day trip to Haiti with supplies and about 500 personnel.
Charitable groups say the government’s agreement to match donations could be an added incentive for Canadians to donate to eligible charities.
“When people see it is important to the Canadian government, I think Canadians will open up their wallets and be assured that Haitian people will receive it,” said Revenue Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn.
Foreign Affairs has published a partial list of experienced humanitarian organizations, which includes the World Vision Canada, Médecins Sans Frontières, Save the Children Canada and the Canadian Red Cross.
Canadian Red Cross spokeswoman Katie Kallio said the agency had collected $2.6 million as of Thursday. About $1 million of that came in within the first 24 hours, she said.
UNICEF Canada raised $550,000 in just 36 hours through web and telephone pledges – an outpouring president Nigel Fisher called “unlike anything since the tsunami.”
It took only about 24 hours before scammers were churning out emails exploiting the disaster, security experts said Thursday.
Most of the spam emails are masquerading as legitimate pleas for donations from aid groups, said Dylan Morrs, spokesman for security software maker Symantec. Most of the messages are unsophisticated and usually involve requests to send personal information to an email address or fax number.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has compiled a guide to help the public avoid scams and ensure their donations are of maximum value. It can be found online at international.gc.ca.
The Better Business Bureau recommends the public consult the Canadian Revenue Agency’s list of registered charities and relief organizations at http://www.cra.gc.ca/donors.
Meanwhile, provincial governments are making cash donations to the Canadian Red Cross to help relief efforts:
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are donating $100,000 each;
Newfoundland is contributing $1 million;
Quebec, where the majority of Haitian Canadians live, has committed $100,000;
British Columbia is contributing $500,000.
With files from The Canadian Press, Louise Brown
Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?
Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.