"One of the Worst Natural Disasters of the Century"

Exactly a week ago today, a magnitude-7 earthquake ripped through Haiti, flattening its capital, Port-au-Prince, and numerous surrounding villages. Since then, the international media has shown us images of demolished buildings, injured and deceased victims, overcrowded medical clinics, looting, and hunger -- utter devastation. The death toll is ever-rising, and officials now say it could reach 200,000. Aid is trickling in, but the scale of destruction -- in a nation that was impoverished to begin with -- is earning this the title of "one of the worst natural disasters of the century."

3 pleas for Haiti relief
A recent New York Times article said as much when recapping the efforts of President Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to raise money for Haitian relief efforts from corporations, foundations, and individuals. The author points out the unique position of the U.S.:

"...the untold number of the dead in what has turned into by far one of the worst natural disasters in a century gave the three a rallying point to express common ground and belief in the American spirit of giving, and that they did."

To date, U.S. corporations have given $69 million in aid, according to the Business Civic Leadership Center, and the list includes big names such as Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , Altria Group (NYSE: MO  ) , and General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) . In addition, companies like Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT  ) are giving generous in-kind donations of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, and familiar faces like Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) are leveraging their huge networks to partner with relief organizations and facilitate donations.

Small donations, big differences
Still, while corporate America's multimillion-dollar donations are certainly helpful, the importance of the individual donor shouldn't be ignored. Small donations play a big part. In fact, after the 2004 tsunami, $2.78 billion of the $6.2 billion came from individual donors in the U.S. The median donation was $50, and the average donation $135.

The Motley Fool is embracing this idea and doing our part to aid the victims in Haiti. We'll make our own generous donation to Mercy Corps, a former Foolanthropy partner, and we'd like to encourage the Fool community at large to do so as well. We're not a huge Fortune 500 corporation, but the Fool has a passionate, dedicated community that has rallied in the past for many different causes. Fools, we urge you to take a pause from your work, and consider giving $10, $20, or $50 to one of the worthy organizations below. Your donation could have a bigger impact than you may think.

Claire Stephanic does not own any of the companies mentioned. Amazon.com is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy


Read/Post Comments (40) | Recommend This Article (77)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 4:09 PM, lemoneater wrote:

    I was thankful that the organization/private college I work for was able to raise $13,000 which we sent with somebody who was flying direct to Haiti. God bless all those who are giving of their time and skills in the relief efforts.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 4:28 PM, catoismymotor wrote:

    Doctors Without Boarders has a Facebook page. If you use Facebook please join the group. Right now the number of members is really low, around 175. If you join you will lend moral support to a wonderful group and help make others aware of their presence.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 5:17 PM, thetucket wrote:

    I echo the article and encourage people to donate...

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 5:29 PM, Flygal5 wrote:

    Just do your research and look on Charity Navigator. Be sure you are giving to a real charity that will help. Not a lowlife scammer trying to get money on the misery.

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 5:30 PM, dhcg86 wrote:

    What a joke!

    31,000 children die from hunger every day!

    EVERY DAY!!!

    And yet we act like this is this biggest disaster ever....

    hmph

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 5:54 PM, jmiranda62 wrote:

    @cstephanic: Thank you for posting this article. In addition to WFP, MSF, and Mercy Corps (all great orgs), I'd also like to suggest adding Partners In Health (www.pih.org) to your donation list.

    PIH has been working in Haiti for over 20 years, providing health care services and education to the poorest of the poor. In addition to organizing medical teams on the ground in Haiti, we have been sending volunteers and supplies since the earthquake struck. And we could really use more support.

    For more information on how to help:

    http://www.standwithhaiti.org

    For more charity ratings information:

    http://www.givewell.net/haiti

    http://www.charitywatch.org/toprated.html

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary...

    Thank you for your consideration

    Justin

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 6:12 PM, Stan0301 wrote:

    The world weeps for the people of Haiti--but as earthquakes go 7 is as small as big can be-there was an earthquake in Argentina a few years ago that released 4,000 times as much energy as the one in Haiti--The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 released 18 times as much energy--this would be a really good time to ramp up our west coast building codes--it isn't "if" it is "when"--and it will be many times as strong as what we have just seen in Haiti.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 6:17 PM, XMFClarity wrote:

    jmiranda62:

    Thanks for the info -- good stuff! I've used Charity Navigator and GuideStar in the past. The BBB also has a site just for rating nonprofit orgs. Also, a number of organizations are listed on the Embassy of Haiti's website:

    http://www.haiti.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=a...

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 6:22 PM, Fool wrote:

    WE are deeply saddened by this unbelieveable tragedy but as dhcg86 says above 31000 die of hunger daily and over 3000 innocent babies are aborted every day in the US and very few people seem to care about these tragedies.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 6:23 PM, Turfscape wrote:

    By the way, Danielthebear wrote a nice summary of the history of Haiti's suffering (with nice addendum by devoish) over in the blogs. I recommend it for those who would like a little perspective on the troubles Haiti has had to contend with.

    http://caps.fool.com/Blogs/ViewPost.aspx?bpid=328877&t=0...

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 6:28 PM, seanmh1970 wrote:

    I work for Intel and they are matching employee donations, so I have already donated throught them. I do want to say Thank You Motley Fool for using your platform to make this request - the more attention on Haiti right now the better.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 6:29 PM, Turfscape wrote:

    dhcg86 wrote:

    "What a joke!"

    So, because there is still hunger in the world, the suffering of Haitians is a "joke" to you? It's not a competition! Grow a soul...

    I think everyone is thoroughly aware that other suffering still occurs on a daily basis. That doesn't discount the tragedy that has occurred in Haiti. Oh...and guess what, in ADDITION to this horrific natural disaster, Haiti deals with deplorable poverty every day...including thousands of Haitian children and adults going hungry, dying of easily curable diseases, serving as virtual slaves just to have a place to sleep.

    But, gee, so long as YOUR cause is still not solved, then I guess these folks can go pound sand.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 6:33 PM, Turfscape wrote:

    Fool wrote:

    "31000 die of hunger daily and over 3000 innocent babies are aborted every day in the US and very few people seem to care about these tragedies."

    I call B.S. Just because it's not the top news story tonight, that means no one cares about hunger? Hmm...seems to me that there are hundreds of charities in the U.S. trying their best to address hunger. People everywhere donate to these charities with every paycheck either directly or through organizations like United Way. People think about hunger and on-going suffering a lot more frequently than you would like us to believe.

    To pretend that no one cares about other causes just because the Haitian earthquake is currently the top news story does a huge disservice to both the problem of hunger AND the suffering in Haiti.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 7:04 PM, foolishlew wrote:

    I don't know if the 31,000 or the 3000 are accurate numbers, but I'm sure there are many thousands in both those catagories. Each loss is a personal tradegy in itself and for the most part, these casualties stem from a social climate that allows, and in fact promotes, poverty and callous indifference to the rights and welfare of

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 8:17 PM, Gardnermiles wrote:

    This would be a great time for the world's philanthropists to settle their score for their wins in the game of monopoly. There really is only so much money that is necessary and the remainder becomes a cumbersome task of checks and balances. Philanthropists this is your time to settle your soul and win approval from the Great Eternal One.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 8:38 PM, stockmenot wrote:

    I agree with the negative comment. People die from hunger everyday....what about New Orleans???? Has it been rebuilt yet??? No, yet we are sending our money to someone else when we haven't even finished taking care of our own. What about the small towns in Arkansas where there aren't any jobs, high drug use and they are in desperate need of dentists??? What about the 911 site???? It just sits there, for 9 years. American's have the attention span of a fruit fly......what ever the media tells us, is where our minds go next. What about the troops we sent there? Will their injuries of today be taken care of tomorrow??? Of course not. We only listen to what we're told. I don't care what Motley's Fool thinks of charity. It is not their job. I don't care which corporations are giving...it has nothing to do with who I should invest with. This just gives MF a vacation from doing what they are paid to do.......TELL ME HOW TO INVEST MY MONEY!!!! That's what I paid you for!!!!

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 8:43 PM, stockmenot wrote:

    We can rebuild Haiti, but as long as they are under a tyrany that doesn't allow them to live their lives freely, they will continue to have a population of 40% children......as long as controlling the population isn't addressed, you can just keep throwing money at it. It will not get better. For those of you who think I don't have a soul......Simon on American Idol isn't well liked either, but he tells it like it is. That's the humane thing to do.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 9:24 PM, jmiranda62 wrote:

    With respect to the comments about hunger, AMEN! Let's solve hunger while we're at it. Please give some money to organization that are trying to end world poverty/hunger. Whether you want to give to a U.S. organization like Second Harvest or an international organization like the World Food Program ... just give what you can.

    Partners In Health actually works with the World Food Program (which is on the donor list above) at most of our sites (Haiti, Rwanda, and Lesotho) to help provide food and nutritional supplements to our patients and their families. We provide other essentials like clean water and housing as well because you cannot treat diseases with medicine alone.

    Do you want to strike out hunger world-wide? The World Food Program provides countless meals for people all over the world, mostly in developing countries. So if you are concerned about hunger, please give your money to them. The WFP needs the donations and are doing great things as well.

    So give your money where you think it will be utilized best ... to victims of the hurricane in New Orleans, to disaster relief victims in Haiti, to victims of world hunger, to victims of whatever disease, famine, or disaster is closest to your heart. Just give.

    Unfortunately, sometimes it takes an earthquake in Haiti or a hurricane in New Orleans to open the world's eyes to the all-present devastation of hunger and disease that is all around us. So at a time when so many are in need in one country, it's up to all of us (you and me) in the developed world to help out. Give what you can, whenever and wherever you can.

    PLEASE JUST GIVE!

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 10:24 PM, amos76 wrote:

    thank you for posting this article - i work in the humanitarian aid industry and appreciate seeing this on your website.

    The need is great in Haiti and other places in the world and it is important that the charity world and the private sector come together to fight poverty and injustice. thanks again.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 11:32 PM, garifool wrote:

    With or without the earthquake, Haiti needs help!

    And there are people who died during the earthquake because they were there BEFORE, to help Haitians!

    For sure lots of others are hungry, but please do not compare to News Orleans, even if this was also a terrible event.

    Let us not wait for others to do it.

    Such events are just a reminder of what we should do on a regular basis.

    I am terribly saddened by some of the comments I read above, because those who visit fool.com are not exactly dying from hunger. I did not count them, but they are really too many!

    stockmenot, you know what? Fool just told you how to invest your money!

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 11:42 PM, jesse2159 wrote:

    This would be an excellent time for the banks to give a billion of the $147 billion in bonus money to Hiati.

    But, don't hold your breath.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2010, at 11:52 PM, OneLegged wrote:

    Sadly the difference between a "joke" and a "catastophe" is determined by whose children are crushed under that building over there.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2010, at 12:03 AM, kiwikeef wrote:

    I have to agree with jesse2159 about the bailout banks The looters of the bailout are screaming demands about their ill gotten bonuses and contributing nothing ( as usual) while decent people and corporations are giving what assistance they can to aid the Haitian people in such a desperate time.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2010, at 12:38 AM, bdillar2 wrote:

    A powerful crisis, yes. I enjoy Motley Fool and value the threads written here.

    I just hope the useless bantering back-and-forth that is so common around the web does not make its way here, especially not by way of a humanitarian conflict (joke vs. whatever you feel).

    If you are interested in helping people, think of what you do best. For example, civil engineering students at Clemson Univ. have been working in Haiti for a few years solving some of their water problems using SUSTAINABLE solutions (THEIR labor, THEIR materials, etc....) as well as giving $$ to the right organizations.

    Best wishes to all and useful Foolish threads!

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2010, at 3:27 AM, sonrisa1 wrote:

    OBSCENE BONUSES"

    If these bankers gave their bonuses to a charity for Haiti preferably gift aided then this might help very very considerably& the buildings could be earth quake proofed."

    Bankers at Goldman Sachs , the focus of much of the public outrage over excessive bonuses, will hear about their payouts next week, a person familiar with the matter said.

    The investment bank had been expected to give staff the outline of their payouts on Monday, in line with previous years when they were told a couple of days before full-year results, which are due on Thursday.

    Goldman has sparked outrage among critics for preparing to pay more than $20 billion in compensation this year, only months after benefiting from a $10 billion U.S. taxpayer bailout.

    Some insiders have blamed the Wall Street powerhouse for not taking a more restrained approach and for stoking public anger. Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein ruffled feathers last year when he said his and other banks were doing "God's work." "My God" what an arse

    Britain had expected to raise 550 million pounds from the tax, but the industry is now expected to pay out over 4 billion pounds unless there is a swift U-turn in plans.

    J.P. Morgan on Friday said it would pay a record $9.3 billion to its investment bankers, working out at about $379,000 per person, which could see its UK levy alone top 300 million pounds, according to a conservative estimate.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2010, at 4:06 AM, ET69 wrote:

    Boy , it seems this disaster in Haiti has caused a small earthquake on the MF Boards! Great to see all the raw comments. So since everyone is cutting loose I'll put my 2 cents in. You really want to help the people in Haiti? Then trade in your Ann Ryan/ Sarah Palin/ Bill O'Riley for some good old Marx-Engels-Lenin-and Trotsky classics. Become a Socialist and donate to the rebirth of real Leftists and REALLY getting rid of the creeps on Wall St. In a word its time for 'SOCIALISM'. Well that's my thinking outside the box comment. Good day Mates.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2010, at 4:24 AM, Friendlysurfer wrote:

    we donated 200. On hundered from my wife and one from me. Probably we should give more, since we can afford it, but I am not too confident it will reach the ones in need and I do not want the Haiti government updating their weapons with it. But I guess we should donate something, better lose it than regret not having tried to help at lest with money. Btw, we used to live in Cayman and that one just got away with a minor quake yesterday....the worst hit got our former location where we lived, Pirates Liar... kind of a hint to me, we should donate some more for Haiti... the "gods" are asking for it :-)

  • Report this Comment On January 21, 2010, at 12:16 PM, diverjimk wrote:

    I see many countries have contributed help. I'm wondering if any Muslim countries or countries such as Venezuela or Cuba are among them.

  • Report this Comment On January 21, 2010, at 4:59 PM, SAABRIP wrote:

    stockmenot is ab-solute-ly 100% RIGHT.

    These people are honestly kidding me! New Orleans and every other needy region of our country still need work! Have any ofr these bleeding hearts EVER taken a walk through some of these areas and neigborhoods??? I have! I lived in those places at one time! so they think we should be sending out country's money and resources to other places??

    Don't get me wrong.. I am NOT singling out the Haiti disaster. It's every single disaster we dump money WE DON'T HAVE into. The U.S. is capable of other forms of aid.

    Do NOT send our already over-extended military to do triple, quadruple, etc. their anticipated workload.

    The media leads this country by a chain leash padlocked to a nose-ring!!

  • Report this Comment On January 21, 2010, at 5:01 PM, SAABRIP wrote:

    And I'm not some stuffy conservative GOP Palin-worshipper. It's just common sense!

  • Report this Comment On January 21, 2010, at 5:59 PM, OPTIONNUT wrote:

    We have donated but where are the leaders in Haiti?

    I suggest that the use of this money be monitored by an outside agencey not related to our Congress!

    My concern is that corruption and waste continue to run rampent!

  • Report this Comment On January 21, 2010, at 6:44 PM, stockmenot wrote:

    SAABRIP: You said it best. What is most important here, is that we're like children who need Ritalin. Every time something happens, our media jerks us in another direction. In fact you'll find that our stocks are the same way: go up with attention whether they have value or not. That is what MF does as well. Artificially affects the value.

    NOW MF, get back to work!!!!

  • Report this Comment On January 21, 2010, at 11:45 PM, marc5477 wrote:

    I am all for charity but... dont we have enough problems here with homeless, jobless, parentless people?

    No offense to all you bleeding heart people but helping Haiti solves absolutely nothing and is actually counter productive.

    Furthermore, did any one else get offended general Hatain's attitude? Why do they feel like the world owes them support? I watched 4 out of 5 interviews on tv with people complaining that no one is helping them. How disgusting is this attitude? I know it doesn't represent everyone but the fact that 4 out of 5 random people feel that they are somehow owed aid from strangers makes me want to puke. I come from a 3rd world country and never did my parents take a single handout from anyone even after arriving in the US with nothing.

    If you really want to help humanity concentrate on helping needy children & concentrate on advancing our stagnant education system. In a perfect world I would be all for helping but helping adults with a privileged mindset is a waste when we have kids here that need help.

  • Report this Comment On January 22, 2010, at 10:25 AM, Turfscape wrote:

    marc5477 wrote:

    "No offense to all you bleeding heart people but helping Haiti solves absolutely nothing and is actually counter productive."

    It's counterproductive to help those in need?

    It's counterproductive to continue these completely baseless and assinine assertions that just because we're trying to help people in desperate situation that we don't care about the suffering that we work to alleviate every day.

    These attitudes are what prevail in the world view...these attitudes help to set the perceptions that others hold of the U.S. Stop looking at this like some kind of contest or political competition. When there are people in need anywhere, for any reason...put your hand out to help. Anything else is less than human.

    Marc5477 wrote:

    "I watched 4 out of 5 interviews on tv with people complaining that no one is helping them. How disgusting is this attitude? "

    Less disgusting than yours.

  • Report this Comment On January 22, 2010, at 1:07 PM, langco1 wrote:

    one of the worse disasters of the century is named obama...

  • Report this Comment On January 22, 2010, at 2:46 PM, daliya wrote:

    Where is the red cross ? 5 or 6 days and now a week and the stuff is in the air port. How did the isrealis set up a full hospital with equipment and 150 or 200 doctors 10 tons of it in 2 days. Why do we allow shooting of looters who are trying to stay a live? for god sakes. WHERE THE HELL ARE WE?

    iS EVERYONE IN USA ON DRUGS OR VALIUM?I AM MAD . daliya@nontoxic.com

  • Report this Comment On January 22, 2010, at 6:03 PM, boldspoo wrote:

    I like how people tout stats/facts/theories/whatever...

    Its like you think you know everything.

    --Building NO up after Katrina takes more than money, time is the essential piece - you can build huge buildings (Dubai anyone?) really fast that accomplish nothing without the infrastructure of business to fill them, which takes time.

    --31,000 a day? OK, lets look at math, 6B people and 31,000 a day.... or 9.8M and 200,000 in a day? Figure it out yourself as to why this is considered a catastrophe.

    --Where is the Red Cross? Shipping in medical supplies/food/water to the single quasi-functional runway and single quasi-operational port. Both of which require constance observation and maintenance and severely limit access.

    --Guess how many countries deployed portions of their troops for aid? Starts with an A and ends with a -stop-being-pretentious.

    --So what I got is that you'd rather just have our military focus on war? Yeah, that sounds like a great plan. "We don't want you to participate in humanitarian efforts - go bad and dodge roadside bombs." And I'm speculating a little, but I understand many in the military volunteer to do humanitarian tours.

    --Stockmenot... you don't have to yell.

    OK, I got my cents out. Just please stop assuming you have the ONLY right answer and everyone else is wrong - you just end up sounding like Fox News.

    AP

  • Report this Comment On January 22, 2010, at 8:41 PM, sheltonclan wrote:

    Haiti is one of many nations on this planet that has needed major intervention for years - decades - longer. That 4 hurricanes hit last year was devastating - and lead to many groups setting up shop to try to inject Haiti with a bit of infrastructure of its own. But, before that could happen, Port Au Prince has come tumbling down.

    That I carefully contribute sacrificially to the need there now does not mean that I have blinders on about the rest of the world...including my neighbors here in my own town. I am disappointed in some of the very sad comments above. Money alone is not the answer to all of Haiti's problems, that is true. But without money, all the good intentions in the world will not stop the misery the Haitians are enduring right now.

    Some of us will be called to help in one area, some another. Some can give money, perhaps some of us can go and work, perhaps a few can adopt or help in yet another way. No one of these things is more noble or more important. No one of them is "wrong." The only "Wrong" choice is to sit and selfishly say, "go, and be filled" without doing a thing.

  • Report this Comment On January 25, 2010, at 4:22 PM, 86juicy wrote:

    all comments may be true but we are all people no matter what part of the world we come from so although there are hungry, homeless and broke people in the states there is nothing wrong with helping our country neighbors we all need to realize no one is more precious then no one in god eyes and all of our rewards come from him so be happy for any and every thing that you may have. help haiti

  • Report this Comment On January 25, 2010, at 8:47 PM, CAPTAINWACK wrote:

    Haiti has one of the worst governments in the world. Infested with corruption and run by death squads. It's a sure bet that most of this multi-million dollar bailout will fall into the hands of this corrupt government and will never reach the people that need it. Just look at what's going on right now, backhoe operators demanding 10's of thousands of dollars for a few hours of digging. People being murdered for a bottle of water. It's sick and this corrupt government is going to pocket your cash.

    You want to help? fly to Haiti and bring a shovel.

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