Wyclef Jean and other Yele officials have responded to Gawker and The Smoking Gun’s fair research into the background of Wyclef’s NGO Yele.
Wyclef responds in anger and answers question about his integrity, which no one questions. He doesn’t answer valid questions about
- the operational efficiency of his operation,
- its failure to remain in good standing with the State of Florida,
- incomplete or unfiled tax returns the IRS,
- how these inefficiencies effect the immediate impact of dollars donated to Yele for this crisis
All of these leave questions about the efficacy of his organization vs. other purely disaster and aid focused NGOs (like the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders or UNICEF). No one has questioned the intentions of Wyclef Jean’s NGO. Wyclef seems to think he is being accused of pocketing funds. No one has done that (at least not at Gawker and/or the Smoking Gun). Gawker and Smoking Gun are fairly pointing out that Yele has unique problems that do not make them the most attractive charity to donate to if you want your money to help those people we see suffering right now.
Gawker’s Foster Kamer, fairly and firmly, rebuts:
As we’ve noted before—and it can’t be stressed enough—Wyclef’s been in Haiti, he’s been on the ground helping, and he’s definitely trying to help the cause. That said, the talking points Wyclef read off his BlackBerry sound like they came directly from Locke, and they’re mostly vague obfuscations regarding some of their stateside financial organization issues, and whether or not Yele can help at the moment more than, say, UNICEF, the Red Cross, or Doctors Without Borders. These are organizations that have worked immediate disaster relief efforts, that are on the ground now in full force, and that already have the resources to handle both efforts in the wake of a disaster and the financial infrastructure required to do so.
Haiti’s going to need help for a long time after this. Nobody has any questions as to the sincerity of Wyclef Jean’s efforts, or that as a native Haitian, he could be well equipped to handle certain situations other organizations aren’t. Yet, Yele’s ties to Wyclef’s commercial interests and questions about their financial structuring are clearly trumped by seasoned organizations who have experience in accepting and utilizing donations when they count the most, when Haiti’s need for things like food, potable water, and medical care are absolutely crucial: right now.
In my opinion, donate to Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF or the Red Cross now. The Red Cross has pre-funded administrative costs for processing donations for Haiti earthquake relief to avoid a repeat of the 9/11 Relief effort fiasco.
I really do believe that Yele, is a good organization to donate to in the medium to long term. There is no reason to doubt Jean’s intentions, after all as Yele’s founder, a millionaire whose albums I have bought, he is literally two boots on the ground in Haiti with his family yanking dead bodies off the streets. As can be seen below, he is a very strong advocate for his country of origin.
Yele Haiti just doesn’t seem like the best conduit to micro-fund immediate disaster relief.
NOTE: this sounds like an excellent blog project to answer the question: What is the real value per dollar donated to an NGO.