Monday, September 13, 2010

Making Good Use of Donations - Haiti Project

In one of the comments to an earlier post, someone wondered how much money we made on our Haiti project. For a reference point, below is some information on the project, provided to me by the program director, Uma Viswanathan. For those of you that don't know, IAHV is the International Association for Human Values, a sister organization to the Art of Living Foundation, which plans and executes most of our service projects in the U.S.

With all that's happened in the U.S. with highly publicized cases where non-profits haven't made the best use of donations, it's not surprising that people can be doubtful. To get a broader sense of how the Art of Living has made use of funds, I'll invite Uma and others to share some of their experiences with service projects they have organized and run.

IAHV gets audited every year, and is an accredited charity of the Better Business Bureau and Best in America by Independent Charities of America. This means that donating to us gives people maximum bang for their buck.

  • Donations collected to date: $165,000
  • Donations spent to date: $54,000
  • Remaining donation $ to be spent on TTC and operating expenses (mostly in-country)
  • 96% of donations go directly into the service work and training of the youth leaders. (This is actually a conservative estimate)
  • Number of team members giving 50% or more of their time to this project: 23
  • Number of full-time (40+ hours/week) team members paid stipends: 3 (Stipend amount: $1000-$2000/month

Successes to date (since January 12 earthquake)2,332 AoL course graduates
  • 5,130 Breath Water Sound course graduates
  • 605 orphans and families trained to develop home gardens through permaculture
  • Contract through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN for 3 month pilot of our permaculture programs (who definitely did their due diligence on our organization before awarding the contract)
  • 16 youth leaders undergoing training prep in: project management, budgeting, media and communications, community organizing


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Dear Jim,

    Thanks so much for sharing this post.

    As Program Director for IAHV's Nouvelle VIe Haiti, the integrity of our program team and youth leaders are at the heart of what we do. Our very intention is to nurture human values of selfless service and personal responsibility. This is challenging in a country as needy as Haiti, where survival and a lifetime of corruption can blur ethics. We personally monitor and we train our youth leaders to monitor every dollar we spend very closely, to foster in the entire program the skill of creating something out of very little. This attitude is critical for our revenue model, which will move towards independence of philanthropic dollars within the next five years.

    IAHV responded to the earthquake before any money was raised to support our work there. When funds were low, I spent my own personal money to fund a trip down there, simply because the need was so great. The activity generated since the earthquake for only $54,000 has only been possible because the majority of our staff and trainers are volunteers, and we barter-exchange goods and service for our programs.

    Thanks again, and I welcome any questions or comments!

    Uma Viswanathan

  3. Art of Living is doing wonderful work when it comes to undertaking or initiating the service projects.
    Visit to know more about the AOL projects.