Charities That Performed Well in the 2005 Hurricanes.

For those looking to donate money (or time) to organizations that might help victims of Hurricane Gustav, here is a list of charities that dealt with both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita (and don't spend too much of their receipts on fundraising).

A year ago the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) rated the best charities dealing with these two storms:


Updated August 27, 2007

The American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) announces its top-rated charities currently offering services to the victims of the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Southeast U.S. Hurricane Katrina devastated major cities along the Gulf coast, including New Orleans, Biloxi and Mobile, with strong winds up to 140 mph in some areas and flooding. Not long afterwards, Hurricane Rita severely damaged small coastal communities including Lake Charles and Holly Beach in Louisiana and Port Arthur and Beaumont in southeast Texas.

. . . AIP, a leading charity watchdog that issues letter grade (A+ to F) ratings of nonprofit groups, identifies the following relief charities, which are providing aid to the victims. These charities have received an "A" . . . grade based on the portion of their budget going to program services and their fundraising efficiency. Charities with a "*" have announced plans to provide aid to victims of Hurricane Rita.

*American Red Cross (A-)


*AmeriCares (A)


*America's Second Harvest (A)


*Church World Service (A)


*Direct Relief International (A)


*MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger (A)


*Mercy Corps (A)


*Salvation Army (A)


*Save the Children (A)


*World Vision (A-)


Mama Mia:
But didn't we pay already for help in the form of insane taxes? How much of it went to Blackwater? How much will go now, again?

Blackwater gear up for Gustav
8.31.2008 7:38pm
As a New Orleanian I would like to add how touched I was at the response of the nation's legal community as a whole after Katrina. The coolest thing of all was the many law schools and law firms who gave opportunities to law students from New Orleans, some in their first and second years- you guys really went way, way past what anyone could have expected or asked. I wish now that I had saved a copy of a letter sent from (I think)a guy at a big firm in New York, advocating for the rest of the profession to help students land clerkships.

The bar associations and supreme courts of various states, and individual lawyers, could not have been cooler- many by state supreme court fiat allowed dislocated Louisiana lawyers to practice there for a specified time, and I heard of lawyers making office space and even clothing available to dislocated Louisiana lawyers.

One thing the Louisiana bar ought to do better at is saying THANK YOU to all the people who helped us. And I hope that such drastic measures will not be needed this time.

Jim, thanks for posting a reference to the fine organizations above.
8.31.2008 7:41pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Thanks for the list.
8.31.2008 7:57pm
Thanks for the list, Jim. Unfortunately, given the latest forecasts it may become quite relevant in the next couple of days. VC readers who want to donate but don't want their money sucked into admin/overhead really appreciate the info.

There are many ways people can help, ranging from donations, to assistance with the dislocated in your area, to "boots on the ground" if you're able. And prayer doesn't hurt either. Please do what you can.
8.31.2008 8:02pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Not to criticize any of the organizations on the list, but are there other measures of effectiveness available? Of course one is wary of organizations that spend an excessive portion of their income on fundraising and administration, but even organizations that don't may not do a great job in the field. They may be poorly organized, focussed on some narrow thing that doesn't matter very much, only willing to help people of a particular religion, etc.
8.31.2008 8:12pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

many by state supreme court fiat allowed dislocated Louisiana lawyers to practice there for a specified time,

I'm curious how reasonable this is for lawyers practicing state law given that Louisiana differs from all other states in having a legal system based in part on civil law. Are Louisiana lawyers well qualified to practice in common law jurisdictions?
8.31.2008 8:17pm
Bill Poser,

I have no statistics on hand but my sense is that the vast majority of the people allowed to practice in other states were still with their Louisiana firms, who had to move to other places (such as Houston, Birmingham, etc.) to find office space. So in essence they were still practicing Louisiana law, serving the same clients they had before the storm. They were just doing it while temporarily outside Louisiana.

Probably a number of these lawyers picked up local clients- as happened with several criminal defense and personal injury lawyers in Houston I can think of. I guess some of the LA lawyers got local jobs. But the temporary admissions had a sunset clause so the lawyers eventually had to take the bar (or in the case of TX, fill out paperwork-- if you've been admitted over 5 years in LA and practiced full time, Texas will admit you on motion). I don't know how many firms hired people admitted on such a basis.

To address the specifics of your statement- "I'm curious how reasonable this is for lawyers practicing state law given that Louisiana differs from all other states in having a legal system based in part on civil law. Are Louisiana lawyers well qualified to practice in common law jurisdictions?"
--I don't know, having only pro hac'd a couple of times elsewhere it didn't seem too foreign to me, at least in litigation. If you can learn to practice in one place you can do it elsewhere. Louisiana's civil code sets it apart in terminology and certain legal concepts but I'm sure good non-Louisiana lawyers could do fine here (I've seen them do it) and the converse is true. My impression is that decades ago, having a statute-based body of state law was unusual compared to other states; but statutes are increasingly important in every state.

I'd happily handle legal work in another state, but not without doing a LOT of background research for every step I took, and working closely with local counsel who I knew to be good. Would I be so bold as to open up an office in another state without even someone to show me the ropes? No way. I'm sure I would have the same attitude even if I did not have a Louisiana background. The hangup would not be so much the lack of a Louisiana-style civil code, as it would be the many, many, many ways you can screw up practicing law if you are not extremely careful.
8.31.2008 8:39pm
BlackX (mail):
I'm quite surprised the Mennonite Central Committee's MDC is not on that list. I wonder how they picked those.
8.31.2008 8:40pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Bill Poser,

The same thought occurred to me when I went searching for organizations.

I agree that not wasting money on overhead is a poor measure of effectiveness, but that's the best I could find in a quick search.

I think President Bush is recommending the Red Cross.
8.31.2008 8:44pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

I think President Bush is recommending the Red Cross.

Hmm. I have a good opinion of the Red Cross, but now I'm not so sure. :)
8.31.2008 8:47pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Terrence Philip.

Thanks, that's very informative.
8.31.2008 8:48pm
And now for something completely different... I was afraid something incredibly crass like this would happen, given how supercharged the political environment is:
ABC News' Teddy Davis Reports: Former DNC Chairman Don Fowler apologized on Sunday for joking in a private conversation that the timing of Hurricane Gustav demonstrates that God is on the side of the Democrats....

Fowler was secretly recorded by the person sitting behind him while flying from Denver, Colo., to Charlotte, N.C., following the Democratic National Convention. His conversation with Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., was anonymously posted to YouTube and highlighted by, a conservative blog....

Fowler, a superdelegate who endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2007, was caught on tape saying: "The hurricane's going to hit New Orleans about the time they start. The timing is -- at least it appears now that it'll be there Monday. That just demonstrates that God's on our side. [Laughter] Everything's cool."
And in the tradition of a "the best defense is a good offense, Fowler now attacks the guy who recorded his boorish comments on the plane as "some right-wing nutcase."

This was in such bad taste, about all the DNC can do to make amends it run this clown right out of the party. And he'd deserve it.
8.31.2008 9:18pm

I don't claim any authority in this conversation but as someone who may lose his home and livelihood to Gustav I offer my perspective: I dislike his comments but it's also no surprise that a politico says something like that in private, I equally dislike that he was secretly recorded (a crime) and someone is broadcasting this nationally.

Michael Moore's comments, by contrast, were considered, deliberate and knowingly made in public. I would tell you what I think about him and his comments but I would probably get banned from this board.
8.31.2008 9:40pm
Roy Lofquist (mail):
Dear Sirs,

I don't have any real knowledge about this - only anecdotal. Most WWII veterans despise the Red Cross. I get this not only from family but acquaintances. It's been a long time. Things change.

Amongst the people I have met over the years there is almost universal praise for The Salvation Army.

8.31.2008 10:00pm
crane (mail):
Most WWII veterans despise the Red Cross.

Did they give you any reasons? I'd be interested in hearing them.
8.31.2008 10:36pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

Most WWII veterans despise the Red Cross.

Really? This is not true of the WWII vets I know, including my father and uncles.
8.31.2008 10:42pm
TerrencePhillip, our prayers are with you.

As for Michael Moore, I assume you're referring to this charming little quip on MSNBC the other day:
"I was just thinking, this Gustav is proof that there is a God in heaven," Moore said, laughing. "To have it planned at the same time -- that it would actually be on its way to New Orleans for day one of the Republican Convention, up in the Twin Cities -- at the top of the Mississippi River."
The man is a pig. You can say want you want about his comment here, and I'm sure Professor V. will respect your First Amendment rights (what the kiddie filter on my computer would think of especially colorful language is another matter, tho...).
8.31.2008 11:11pm
Michael Moore is a provocateur and glory hound. The more controversy he generates, the more books and dvds he sells. He's the left's Ann Coulter. Giving him attention just feeds his behavior.
8.31.2008 11:21pm
LM (mail):
What Angus said. Michael Moore is our (the left's) Ann Coulter. I only wish they were marooned together on a dessert island. It would be a Sartresque win-win for all (us, not them). I'd point out the obvious that Michael Moore speaks only for himself. Nonetheless, I am duly ashamed.

Anyway, back on topic, I remember hearing some very inspiring stories about the work the LDS Church was doing in New Orleans. Maybe I'm just evidence of their skilled marketing, but it's hard for me to imagine they're not efficient with their resources. Is it possible they're not a charity so they can avoid scrutiny of their finances? If not, does anyone know why they wouldn't have made this list? Because all other things being equal, I'd be inclined to make my donation to them, I got such a positive impression of how they and their work was received.
8.31.2008 11:41pm
Michael Moore [and] Ann Coulter... marooned together on a desert island. It would be a Sartresque win-win for all (us, not them).
At least until they bred. Then we'd have a REAL problem...

Back on topic, I thought the list was geared toward charitable responders able to mobilize resources on the ground immediately after the wind stopped blowing? In the months after Katrina a lot of other organizations did very good work with cleanup and rebuilding, and perhaps some of the other groups mentioned in the comments properly fall into that category?

On the Red Cross question: My father (WWII in the North African and Italian theaters) never said a bad thing about the Red Cross, but I could see an argument that given some of their problems over the last 15 years or so, one might be skeptical of their more modern performance. I understand, however, that they've been working hard for the last couple of years to fix the bureaucratic bloat and politicization issues that dogged them.
9.1.2008 12:10am
Mac (mail):
I do not have an extremely high opinion of the Red Cross. They have been repeatedly plagued with financial scandals and mismanagement.

Remember how they let all that blood go bad after 9/11, not to mention the scandal of not distributing the money? Many complaints here in AZ. after the big fire in 2002. Much too bureaucratic and top heavy. I think they screwed up almost as bad as the Feds in giving money out to people after Katrina who did not deserve it, i.e. didn't even live in an affected area and so forth. I can't quite recall the whole story now, but they screwed up.

I know Navy people who have fought fires in Calif. in the 60's and the Red Cross pulls up and proceeds to sell coffee and sandwiches to the men which is a bit of a problem since they are told not to carry money or anything else on them other than dog tags. I then met another Navy man from the late nineties. Same story, I am sorry to report. However, there is universal agreement that the Salvation Army was there and handing out coffee and sandwiches for free, thank God, then and now.

Also, the pay for their regional directors is in the hundreds of thousands, 350,000 for one in Calif., I believe. Way too much overhead especially when they so frequently fail to deliver. To give the devil his due though, they were ready to go into the SuperDome after Katrina and were prohibited from doing so by State Police. They had food and everything. I also, recall the the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was there immediately feeding people and managing to do what no government seemed to be able to manage.

At any rate, the Salvation Army is very good at this sort of thing and a good choice.
9.1.2008 12:18am
Mac (mail):
LM wrote:

I'd point out the obvious that Michael Moore speaks only for himself

Then why was he on prominent display at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 if he speaks only for himself? I was working too much to watch this years Convention. Did they ban him or was he there as well?
9.1.2008 12:21am
Jmaie (mail):
At least until they bred....

Damn it, that's a visual I did NOT need.
9.1.2008 12:49am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Not to be rude or anything, but what with the problems that New Orleans has already had and taking into account global warming, instead of repeating this every few years wouldn't it be smarter if you all (New Orleans people) moved uphill?
9.1.2008 5:07am
LM (mail):

Then why was he on prominent display at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 if he speaks only for himself?

He was prominent because he's a self-promoting public figure, and "prominent" is what they do. Last I heard, mere attendance at a convention doesn't authorize someone to speak on anybody's behalf but his or her own.

As for last week's convention, I didn't see him, hear him or hear of him, but I probably missed about a third of what was broadcast.
9.1.2008 10:56am
LM (mail):
"At least until they bred."

9.1.2008 10:58am
Jmaie (mail):

In 2004 Moore sat in Pres. Carter's box, addressed multiple forums and was received very enthusiasticly. This hardly qualifies as mere attendance. Now, he's a guest on Olbermann. Certainly gives the impression he speaks for many in the party.

I don't believe Pres. Clinton has any official capacity either. Does he speak only for himself?
9.1.2008 2:08pm
LM (mail):

Does Ann Coulter speak for CPAC?
9.1.2008 6:30pm
For many years I served as one of the 6 members of our corporation's charity committee. Our company was one of the two largest Defense contractors in the U.S. We gave away many, many $millions to deserving groups and individuals on a quarterly basis.

All donations came from a voluntary weekly paycheck check-off system from the corporation's tens of thousands of employees. Most donated, because the committee had hard-earned credibility. We served voluntarily. And we deliberately avoided giving to any organization that overpaid its executives [we bypassed the national/regional/local organizations and gave directly to those in need; anyone can get a list of who the ARC and United Way donates to, and do likewise, bypassing the typical 20% cut taken by the ARC and others].

As our Committee began to investigate the practices of the American Red Cross [ARC], the United Way and others, it took decisive action. Part of the reason was the excessive compensation taken not only by the C.E.O.s, but by multiple layers of bureaucracy [in the early '70's the ARC's C.E.O. received a $75,000 annual salary].

There are literally tens of thousands of retired C.E.O.'s who would be eager to run the American Red Cross for a nominal $1/year in compensation. Yet the ARC continues its policy of excessive pay and benefits to its top-heavy, grossly overpaid management, taken from public donations. The ARC is a charity whose top priority has morphed from providing prompt charitable relief, into providing a slush fund for its executive bureaucracy. Every instance of cutting a check for people in need involves simultaneous begging for more money, from the very same people who are receiving assistance.

Some time in the mid-'90's, The American Red Cross and the United Way were struck off our corporation's list of beneficiaries by the company's charity committee. The committee's vote was unanimous. Since that vote, neither the ARC nor United Way has received a penny from the committee -- yet they still waste big bucks schmoozing committee members, with all-expense-paid trips to Hawaii, Las Vegas, etc., trying to get the committee to cut loose some of that loot. When their C.E.O.s take no more compensation than the C.E.O. of the Salvation Army, the committee will listen. But of course, that will never happen. They're in it for the money, first and foremost.

The head of the ARC rakes in close to 3/4 of million a year in pay and benefits -- and this money comes directly from the donations of working people like you and I.

The compensation of even regional chapters of the United Way is outrageous. Does anyone think that $822,000 a year, plus $500,000 a year in retirement benefits is reasonable? That much money could help plenty of folks in need.

By giving to the American Red Cross and United Way [and the other national organizations, with one exception, aren't much different], you are giving your money to self-serving scam artists.

Compare those gluttonous pay packages with that of the Salvation Army's C.E.O., Todd Bassett, who receives annual pay and benefits of $64,210, plus a modest house to live in. In addition, most of the Salvation Army's directors serve with very little pay, unlike the bloated, overcompensated ARC and United Way bureaucracies.

It's your money, and your decision. Give it to the people who need it -- not to the high-living hogs with both front feet in the charity trough.
9.1.2008 8:08pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
I heard an interview today with a Katrina victim whose FEMA "cottage" was threatened by Gustav. The reporter noted that she has been unable to find a new home since Katrina. I laughed. Besides, my sympathy ran out for thise people years ago.
9.1.2008 11:54pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Praying for rain appears to be a Republican virtue
9.2.2008 12:33am
Jmaie (mail):
Does Ann Coulter speak for CPAC? Apparently not.

On February 7-9, conservatives from around the country will gather in Washington, D.C. for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). This year, one of the darlings of the far right's oft-distasteful and unpleasant punditry will not be invited:

She's always been outrageous, but when conservative Ann Coulter talked of 9/11 "rag heads" at the 2006 Conservative Political Action Conference and linked the slur "faggot" to Sen. John Edwards in a 2007 speech, CPAC's organizers decided to cut her from the list of speakers at the February 7-9 conference.


Hmmm, Coulter and Moore stranded on a desert island. Go global warming!
9.2.2008 3:15am
LM (mail):

"Besides, my sympathy ran out for thise people years ago."

Inurement to the hardship of others is nothing to brag about.
9.2.2008 3:18am
Eli Rabett (www):
On the theory that history repeats itself with charities here is something to remember

With the Bush Administration's approval, Robertson's $66 million relief organization, Operation Blessing, has been prominently featured on FEMA's list of charitable groups accepting donations for hurricane relief. Dozens of media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN and the Associated Press, duly reprinted FEMA's list, unwittingly acting as agents soliciting cash for Robertson. "How in the heck did that happen?" Richard Walden, president of the disaster-relief group Operation USA, asked of Operation Blessing's inclusion on FEMA's list. "That gives Pat Robertson millions of extra dollars."

Though Operation USA has conducted disaster relief for more than twenty-five years on five continents, like scores of other secular relief groups currently helping victims of Hurricane Katrina, it was omitted from FEMA's list. In fact, only two non-"faith-based" organizations were included. (One of them, the American Red Cross, is being blocked from entering New Orleans by FEMA's parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security.) FEMA, meanwhile, has reportedly turned away Wal-Mart trucks carrying food and water to the stricken city, teams of firemen from Maryland and Texas, volunteer morticians and a convoy of 1,000 boat owners offering to help rescue stranded flood victims. While relief efforts falter in the face of colossal bureaucratic incompetence, the Bush Administration's promotion of Operation Blessing has ensured that the floodwaters swallowing New Orleans will be a rising tide lifting Robertson's boat.

Somehow it is not surprising that Operation Blessing is not on the list of best charities. Wonder where it fell?
9.3.2008 9:32am