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July 13, 2010

Hundreds of Millions in Haiti Donations Still Unspent

Six months after the Haiti earthquake, much of the more than $1.3-billion in charitable donations to the devastated island remains in relief agencies’ coffers, according to NPR.

A survey of dozens of groups working in Haiti found that many still have substantial amounts of donated funds in the bank. The American Red Cross, which collected nearly $500-million for earthquake relief, has spent about a third of the money.

The Red Cross, like other groups, said it will be providing relief services in Haiti for several years and that it would not be prudent to spend all the money raised so far. Peter Walker, director of the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, agreed, saying that given the level of devastation, using the donated money wisely “is actually quite difficult.”

A new report by the nonprofit Disaster Accountability Project faults humanitarian groups for a lack of transparency about their activities in Haiti, writes The New York Times.

Of nearly 200 groups that have solicited funds for Haiti, only six have made available regularly updated reports detailing their work, according to the report. Nearly two-thirds had no such reports on their Web sites, relying instead on anecdotal accounts of their activities and emotional appeals.

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy article on the Haiti relief effort six months after the quake.

(Free registration is required to view the Times article.)