is it better to donate to individuals or organizations?

Giving directly to individuals or to communities removes a lot of bureaucratic overhead.  But sometimes NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have expertise and resources that are necessary — or at least helpful in order to spend money well.  NPR’s Planet Money podcast recently looked at two cases of direct donations in Haiti. In one case direct donations to a community cause (school improvement) ended disastrously, but in another case (donations to a savvy wholesaler who’d been supporting her family for years before the earthquake), it seems as if an organization would have only gotten in the way of a mostly very good thing. In both cases, the results were complex and interesting.

Here’s the most recent report on all these cases: What your $3000 bought in Haiti.  This podcast summarizes and refers back to these earlier ones:

How foreign aid is hurting Haitian farmers: the initial description of the community that needed school improvement, prior to donations

Small business, big debts in Haiti: the initial description of Yvrose Jean Baptiste, wholesaler of chicken necks and other parts

For $3860, a new life: the follow up to the Yvrose story, post-donations

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