UMCOR Haiti Disaster Response – Frequently Asked Questions
Several inquiries have come in about UMCOR’s response to the emergency in Haiti and how you or your local congregation can help. Below are some frequently asked questions that address some of the most common concerns.
- What Can I Do To Help?
- UMCOR Responds
- Kit Ministry
- Haitians and Immigration Process
- Financial Accountability—Why Give To UMCOR?
Here are eight ways you can mobilize your community, church, classmates and colleagues to help Haiti now and into the future:
- Prepare relief supply kits, especially school kits and birthing kits. Gather with friends, family or fellow travelers to put together these continually needed supply packages. Learn how here.
- Pray daily for those left hurt and homeless in Haiti, for those who have lost loved ones, and for those who are separated from family members. Worship resources including prayers, video, flyers and songs are available..
- Organize a fundraiser and channel 100 percent of the proceeds directly to Haiti earthquake relief through UMCOR.
- Stay informed. Visit www.umrespond.org for updates and images of needs and progress in Haiti and among Haitian and Haitian American communities in the U.S.
- Make a gift in honor of a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion with a donation in the name of the recipient to UMCOR relief efforts.
- Contact your Conference Disaster Response Coordinator and offer your time and talent to assist Haitian evacuees.
- Contact your Jurisdictional Volunteer in Mission Coordinator and visit the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Haiti website to learn how you might volunteer in Haiti.
- Remember: Haiti recovery will take years, so give generously to support UMCOR’s immediate relief and long-term recovery effort. Gifts to Haiti can be made online by visiting www.umcorhaiti.org. For gifts by mail, please make checks payable to UMCOR and mail to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Please indicate Haiti Emergency, UMCOR Advance #418325 on the memo line of your check. One hundred percent of gifts made to this advance will go to help the people of Haiti.
What is UMCOR doing in Haiti right now?
The best way to stay current about UMCOR’s work in Haiti is to visit www.umrespond.org There you will find current news, worship resources, videos, and ways to give and help. An overview of UMCOR's five-year plan can be found here:
Who will receive UMCOR’s help?
The primary beneficiaries will be those who have been most affected by the earthquake, as well as those who have been under-served by other relief providers. UMCOR is working in partnership with the Eglise Methodiste d'Haiti (EMH), as well as international and local NGO's to extend outreach and avoid duplication of efforts.
Can UMCOR help individual people in need of help?
UMCOR takes special care based on comprehensive criteria to select the communities in which we work. It is not possible for UMCOR to help individuals. We encourage concerned individuals to please speak with the local church to explore avenues of support.
I want to adopt a child from Haiti. Can UMCOR help or refer me?
How can I make a gift to UMCOR’s Haiti Emergency Relief?
Gifts to Haiti can be made online by visiting www.umcorhaiti.org. For gifts by mail, please make checks payable to UMCOR and mail to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Please indicate Haiti Emergency, UMCOR Advance #418325 on the memo line of your check.
Can I take a deduction for my charitable gift to UMCOR?
Yes. Taxpayers may make the deduction on the 2009 or 2010 returns, but not both. Please visit www.irs.gov for more details.
I want to donate to UMCOR online. Can my church, district, or conference receive credit?
Yes. Online giving allows for the charitable gift to be linked to your conference, your district, and your local church.
My local congregation was not listed in the online list.
To find your conference and district, go to www.umc.org. Locate the tab labeled “Our Church”, and click on the sub-heading “Structure & Organization”. Under the “Organization” heading, you can locate districts and conferences. If you still cannot find your church, please make a gift by check and include the name and address of your local church with your contribution.
I want to donate clothing, medical equipment, school books, or other material goods to the people of Haiti? Can I send them to UMCOR?
Because of shipping, distribution, and practical concerns, we are unable to accept these kinds of gifts. Please consider your local thrift shop to help those in need in your local community.
I would like to donate tents to Haiti. Does UMCOR accept such donations?
UMCOR is following the guidelines of the United Nations Shelter Cluster Group to design long-term solutions for shelter. Because of the time and cost to ship tents, as well as the very temporary nature of them, UMCOR is not accepting donations of tents.
How can I assemble and ship health kits, birthing kits or layette kits?
UMCOR Sager Brown is coordinating shipments of health, birthing and layette kits to provide communities with basic necessities. See instructions for assembling and shipping health kits here, or go to www.umrespond.org and click on the relief supplies link.
Please ship kits to the nearest UMC warehouse/facility for forwarding to UMCOR Sager Brown. UMCOR's plan is to keep the health kits going into Haiti. In preparing for shipments, there is plenty of space at the UMCOR Sager Brown Depot and at the UMCOR West Office and Depot. UMCOR is working with conference/jurisdictional owned warehouses such as Midwest Mission Distribution Center (Illinois), Mission Response Center (Western North Carolina), MERCI (North Carolina), Mission Central (Central Penn.), Eastbrook Mission Barn (Western Penn.) and staging areas in several conferences.
UMCOR continues to ship kits to other countries as well as to respond to Haiti needs.
From what we see on the news, it’s going to be very difficult to deliver health kits. Is it better just to send cash?
Cash donations are always the fastest way for UMCOR to get aid to Haiti. But, school kits, birthing kits and layette kits are also needed. UMCOR is positioning operations to be able to receive, warehouse and distribute the kits. Please visit www.umrespond.org, which outlines the most current needs.
Your gift to Material Resources, UMCOR Advance #901440 allows Sager Brown to purchase relief supplies.
What is UMCOR doing for Haitian immigrants in the US?
Please read the following articles on what UMCOR is doing to help Haitian immigrants.
For more information on how UMCOR is helping Haitians and other immigrants through it's Justice for Our Neighbors program, please click here.
What is the U.S. government doing to assist Haitians in the U.S. following the earth quake?
The U.S. government has offered Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian immigrants, which will allow them to stay and work in the U.S. for a period of 18 months starting January 21, 2010. This status is available only to Haitians who were present in the U.S. on January 12, 2010 (the day of the earthquake) and is not available to Haitians who arrived in the country after that date. For full details of requirements and qualifications, check the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. The deadline for application is July 20, 2010.
In addition, the U.S. government will consider expediting pending immigration processes involving Haitian families, specifically the adoption of Haitian orphans if the process was already underway prior to the earthquake. Haitian families with pending immigration processes should contact USCIS at 1-800-375-5283.
Matters concerning the adoption of Haitian orphans should be brought to the Department of Homeland Security at HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov. For questions and answers of concern to U.S. citizens in the Haiti adoption process, please click here.
Will the U.S. government allow Haitians to seek refuge in the U.S.?
The government has indicated that it does not plan to create an immigration or refugee path for Haitians affected by the earthquake to come to the U.S. because it believes that rebuilding efforts will require all existing Haitian national resources. The TPS program is geared specifically to Haitian immigrants who were in the U.S. on the day of the earthquake. The government has indicated it would turn new Haitian arrivals back to Haiti.
In rare cases, Haitians hurt in the earthquake have been brought to the U.S. for medical care via USCIS' humanitarian parole provision. UMCOR's Refugee Ministry, in concert with Church World Service, is offering support to those Haitians wounded in the earthquake who have been evacuated to the United States. For more information, click here.
Are there “Haitian refugees” in the U.S. as a result of the earthquake?
In the immigration and human rights context, “refugees” are displaced people who, due to well-founded fear of persecution, have fled their homeland. Based on this traditional international law concept, there is no refugee process to admit Haitians into the U.S. who have been affected the earthquake. However, the U.S. government has the authority to grant humanitarian parole to Haitians or persons of any nationality if it deems such action appropriate. There are indications that the government has granted such parole in rare cases. Humanitarian parole provides for no bridge to permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship.
How can we reach out to find people who may have spiritual, emotional or other needs associated with the disaster in Haiti?
- Identify communities where Haitians and Haitian-Americans are living.
- Talk with clergy and spiritual leaders in those communities. ASK: Do they want your help? If so, what is needed?
- Reach out to local organizations that serve Haitians and ask if you can volunteer in some way
- Contact UMCOR's JFON program and volunteer to help out at an immigration clinic in your area.
How can we show we care for and about people in our own communities who have loved ones in Haiti?
- Americans seeking information on family in Haiti can call 1.888.407.4747
- Prayer services, fund raisers, kit ministries – all of these communal activities provide opportunities for people to feel connected and to “act locally.”
- For more information on Kit Ministries and Relief Supplies, click here.
Where can I find press releases, PowerPoint presentations, bulletin inserts, and flyers about supporting UMCOR in Haiti?
Please visit www.umrespond.org for downloadable resources and up-to-date information about UMCOR’s relief efforts.
Please direct all press inquiries about UMCOR's response to Melissa Hinnen, director of UMCOR communications, at 212.870.3808. If she is not available, please direct the inquiry to Linda Unger, staff writer for UMCOR, at 212.870.3815.
Why is UMCOR not listed in some press lists of organizations providing recovery work in Haiti?
UMCOR has contacted all of the major media outlets and submitted information as requested to be listed with them. Each company makes its own decision about which organization to list. We encourage you to reach out to them as a viewer or reader to ask them to include UMCOR.
UMCOR guarantees that 100 percent of every gift made to a specific UMCOR project like Haiti Emergency is spent on that project, and not on home office costs. United Methodists’ gifts to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering underwrite UMCOR's "costs of doing business."
UMCOR is a recipient of two top rating honors issued by Charity Navigator and the American Institute of Philanthropy, which attest to UMCOR’s sound financial accountability and good stewardship.
UMCOR is one of three organizations working in Haiti to receive an A+ rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP), a nonprofit charity watchdog and information service. The A+ rating means that UMCOR maximizes the effectiveness of every dollar contributed to it. Only a select number of more than 500 charities qualify for AIP's “top-rated” listing.
UMCOR also has a coveted four-star rating for sound fiscal management from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest and most utilized evaluator of charities. The four-star “exceptional” designation indicates that UMCOR executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way.
UMCOR undertakes both periodic internal audits and annual OMB A-133 Audits, and maintains low-risk auditee status with the U.S. government.
As a member of InterAction, the largest coalition of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) focused on the world’s poor and most vulnerable people, UMCOR holds itself to a set of industry standards via a comprehensive, bi-annual self-certification process.
Could you please advise how quickly funds are disbursed?
As soon as donations are received at UMCOR, they are put into the Haiti Relief fund to be available as needs are assessed and grants approved. To be accountable to our donors, release of the funds follows a set procedure, including approval by our board of directors.
UMCOR funds have been flowing into Haiti since the first week of the emergency. We sent an emergency grant to the Methodist Church in Haiti and provided grants to other partners there based on their requests. UMCOR NGO is working on the ground, and funds have been made available to help the field office in its mission. We are aware that the extensive needs generated by the earthquake will require a long-term commitment. UMCOR is disbursing funds received in a responsible and transparent way to meet the needs of every stage of the emergency.
I am concerned that UMCOR does not meet the Better Business Bureau standards.
In 2007 the BBB changed their standard, so they are now more stringent and, in some cases, more narrow in their scope. This is the case with standards 6, 7 and 12, which the BBB reports UMCOR does not meet.
Standards 6 and 7 both have to do with how we report the results of our work to our board of directors. The BBB standard 6 deals directly with assessment and standard 7 with our written reports. At our semiannual meetings, UMCOR provides its directors with progress reports on all areas of our work, as well as detailed financial reports. All financial actions are approved by our directors at that time or by a subcommittee designed to approve the release of funds for needs that require response between meetings. UMCOR employs an internal auditor who reviews the financial integrity of our programs and we also use monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure the effectiveness of our work. These reports come to our board in the form of a staff report on programs, a financial report and internal and external audit reports. These reports are not a single document because of the committee structure of UMCOR, which is a part of the General Board of Global Ministries.
We believe that our reporting more than adequately addresses the spirit behind standards 6 and 7. We have shared all of this information and more with the BBB to seek compliance to standards 6 and 7, but they do not accept these procedures as qualifying.
Standard 12 requires that a detailed breakdown of expenses by natural classification be included in our financial statements. The audited financial statements are prepared on a standard basis across The United Methodist Church and these are not included in any of the financial statements. However, we issue this detailed breakdown of expenses by natural classification in our financial disclosure report which is given to our board of directors and is available to anyone who requests it. This report also includes a detailed listing of grants made by UMCOR. This is not part of UMCOR's official financial statements and therefore the BBB does not see this as meeting standard 12. However, it needs to be recognized that UMCOR is following the policy of the United Methodist Church as a whole.
We hope this clarifies the review we received by the BBB. UMCOR has always and will continue to work with utmost transparency and integrity to alleviate the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable people in the name of United Methodists everywhere.
HOW TO HELP
Continue to support UMCOR's relief efforts in Haiti by giving to Haiti Emergency, UMCOR Advance #418325.