I had started out referring Yele.org, but after just a few minutes of research, I thought better of it. What follows were my first posts and updates on it, which just outgrew my Haiti Links page. Sorry if prose is a bit ragged; the result of too many incremental updates.
Note: I want to again stress that I am in no way bashing Wyclef's goals, or intentions, nor suggesting any of this fuzzy information about his organization must mean it's suspect. I am suggesting that this much money going to very small organizations, simply on the basis of their having access to celebrities, the media, and a 3rd party commercial texting company that milks these issues regularly, just demands that questions be asked. Donors deserve to feel secure that their money is being used effectively. I am simply presenting what is known. As of yet, I have not been able to find a single organization that will go on record about Yele's effectiveness. I hope to, soon.
About Yele.org and Wyclef Jean. — I have had my concerns about this organization, and the more research I do, the less comfortable I am. That is not an indictment of them, but merely evidence of a big question mark looming large. Even if they are completely on the up-and-up, they have raised $2 million dollars, thus far, and nowhere can I find where they account for how this money will be spent. All they say is that it will go to their "sister organization" in Haiti, and that's all that is said about it. Not a single mention of programs, services, administration, boots on the ground, or past successes (outside of their own press releases and puff pieces all over the web). That gives me a lot of pause. I hope it's unwarranted. Browsing their IRS 990s at Guidestar.org didn't help. They claim to not compensate anyone. Again, they may be fine. But if you want to be sure of where your money is going, they would not be my first choice.
Update1: TheSmokingGun.com has been investigating Yele too: Wyclef Charity's Funny Money. I won't make too much out of the 990 IRS filings. It's not a good sign, but it's not conclusive of any wrongdoing. But it does show that Wyclef's organization is very, very small, and likely to have very little relief experience in these kinds of situations.
Update2: I have called the Charity Navigator, trying to confirm that these organizations are in fact "partners" with Yele Haiti. (As Yele claims). As of yet, not one low level staffer from those groups had ever heard of Yele. That is hardly conclusive, but still, this story gets murkier and murkier.
Update3: Yele now announces this big relief flight next week, from Federal Express. I have this odd feeling that I am going to learn that this alliance is not really an alliance at all. But we shall see. Again, read carefully. This entire effort is to fly in goods dropped off at a LOCAL Miami office. One office. Color me cynical, but this just ain't passing my smell test, yet, for a multi million dollar "relief effort"
Update4: I missed this while Googling today. It seems they are confirming much of what I've been saying. but you can tell, they are working from press releases, or Wyclef-supplied info. The advice of the experts in this article should not be discounted.
Wyclef Jean Yéle relief: Is this best way to help Haiti? (Christian Science Monitor)
Groups raise doubts about Wyclef Jean's charity – NY Times
Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Foundation under fiscal scrutiny – washingtonpost.com
BBB Advises Donors on How to Vet Haiti Earthquake Charity Appeals
The American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) rates top 20 charites in Haiti (Yele isn't among them).
Haiti Links and Resources
Haiti: The Story of an Abused Nation