The rapper Wyclef Jean's attempts to raise money for earthquake-stricken victims in his native Haiti have run into trouble. The Haitian-American musician has raised over $1 million since the disaster for his charitable organisation Yele Haiti, but some are questioning the legitimacy of Yele Haiti, with allegations of financial misconduct including a payment made to Jean himself for a charity concert. Jean responded to critics on YouTube by calling the criticism of his charity's expenses "disgusting." Is Yele Hait a scam, or is it being unfairly criticized at the worst possible time? (Watch Wyclef Jean defend Yele Haiti)
Many charities are badly organized -- not all help as much as Yele Haiti: Yele Haiti's "mismanagement" started when Haiti "was a disaster no-one cared about," says Tim Cavanaugh at Reason.com, so it's a stretch to imagine it will "rise to the occasion" now. But let's not forget "non-profit management" is an "ugly business." Even "major charities" spend donations on "waste, rent-seeking, [and] politicking." Wyclef Jean is probably doing more for Haiti than most people.
"Yele Haiti: Ready Or Not?"
It's too small to make a difference: Wyclef Jean clearly has a "long-standing commitment" to the people of Haiti, says John Cook at Gawker. But his charity "is not the best place for your money to go right now." Allegations of financial impropriety aside, Yele Haiti is a "tiny operation" with only one employee, and it is "at risk of being overwhelmed with donations." Emergency money is best given to "one of the larger NGOs" -- not a "small player" like Yele Haiti.
"More on Why Donating to Wyclef Jean's Charity Might Not Be the Best Way to Help Haitians Right Now"
But giving to Haiti may not help anyway: Raising cash for Haitians -- as Yele Haiti is attempting to do -- is "not necessarily a good thing", says Felix Salmon at Reuters. "Throwing money" at "failed states" like Haiti is "very likely to backfire". A far better way to help would be to make an "unrestricted donation" to an aid group such as Doctors Without Borders, which has already received enough in donations to keep its Haiti operations running "for the best part of the next decade," but could use unrestricted donations to help it respond to "equally tragic situations around the world."
"Don't give money to Haiti"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- Israel has only two choices: Eliminate the Palestinians or make peace
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- What I learned from totally unplugging and shutting up for three days
- Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians
- 10 burning questions you've always wanted to ask about investing
Subscribe to the Week