No Offense, But We Need A Plan B For Haiti: Failures Within The Social/Nonprofit Sector Need To Be Acknowledge
Being recognized as the Republic of NGOs, we, as nonprofits, fail to create sustainable projects to benefit the country. The norm of registration within the international community, including the Haitian diaspora, is to register their organization with their government as a 501(c)(3) organization or as an association or foundation in Europe. They are failing to recognize the laws of the country they wish to operate in, and not registering themselves, even if their project is temporary. Some, in truth, do not know how to go about the ethics of registration in a different country. Some will see it as an obstacle that they will never pass and fail to do their part. However, we can agree that procedures to register as an association, foundation, NGO, or foreign entity are limited for the international community, and all methods are not handled by the same municipality, which can make it confusing and complicated. Still, it doesn’t give any foreign organization an excuse to not legalize itself.
Many things are missing from Haiti’s social/nonprofit sector. You can be so deeply in love with its cultural heritage, proud of being the first black republic, but poverty lingers. What is it that we are missing with every cry for help? What aren’t we doing right? Why are donors more likely to donate to 501(c)(3) status/EU nonprofits instead of local organizations? There is a lack of resources that international donors can use to find local nonprofits like associations and foundations. there is also this fear of high risk, what if this is a scam? What if they don’t do what they promised to do with the money? Do they know how to create the reports we need to hold them accountable? What if the money donated cannot be tax exempt? What if?
There is comfort to donate to an organization with tax-exempt status.
One wonders how community-based organizations has been able to sustain themselves without outside funding. Local organizations carry out projects according to the needs of their communities. They have their own strategy and priorities which differ from an outsider who does not have the same experience and has not done their research within a particular community. When local organizations have the opportunity to design their own programs, in accordance with the needs of their community, they are much more likely to be effective and to have lasting impact. Don’t get us wrong, many international organizations are full of dedicated, thoughtful staff members who want to find ways to collaborate with local organizations. However, despite this, many of them still find it difficult to shift and adapt the way they work to accommodate and support local organizations adequately.
We know we’ve had many failures such as the American Red Cross’s controversy, sexual misconduct by international nonprofits, the Caracol EKAM Development scheme, the Clinton Foundation, faith-based organizations, or celebrities looking for that picture-perfect opportunity to show to the world that they care. Let’s cut to the chase: We’ve failed. We fail to acknowledge the fact that we need to invest in sustainable infrastructure, natural disaster preparedness initiatives, job creations, and so much more. Maybe, just maybe, nonprofit is not the route anyone should take when it comes to Haiti. Aid doesn’t flow to Haiti like many people would have thought. What we propose, which many people would not like, is to start shifting our plans for Haiti, find a local nonprofit, and invest in a project they are working on or partner up with them to create sustainable projects. You decide: Have [international] nonprofits changed anything with the money you have donated?
Picture Source: David Choe-Haitian Girl