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Wyclef Jean Yéle relief: Is this best way to help Haiti?

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According to tax forms filed by the Yéle foundation, 73 percent of the organizations funding went to its programs in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The group put 65 percent and 61 percent of its revenues toward programs in 2006 and 2005, respectively.

In contrast, roughly a quarter of the group’s funds went toward administrative and fundraising costs during 2006 and 2007. Over 40 percent of Yele’s 2006 expenditures were eaten up by administration and fund-raising appeals. Yéle did not respond to an e-mail message seeking comment.

Is bigger better?

Bigger, more established aid organizations do a better job of controlling these costs.

For instance, Direct Relief International, a humanitarian group based in Santa Barbara, Calif., spent over 98 percent of its revenue on programs between 2006 and 2008. But that group’s huge revenues ($198 million in 2008) tower over those of Yele, which took in $569,000 in 2007. CARE, an Atlanta-based humanitarian organization, spent over 90 percent of its roughly $650,000,000 in annual revenue on programs between 2006 and 2008.

Some smaller group's also do a better job than Jean's organization. Beyond Borders, a Haiti-focused humanitarian group based in Norristown, Penn., spent over 90 percent of its roughly $948,000 and $866,000 in annual revenue in 2008 and 2007 on programs. Hope for Haiti Children's Center, an Orlando, Fla.,-based group supporting Haitian orphans, spent about 85 percent of its roughly $1 million in annual revenue over the same period.

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