The Roving Bandit does a good job of aggregating advice you should read before donating:
For those more concerned with the medium-to-long term, Paul Currion writes about the tendency for the international community to only act during overt crises:
Nobody can deny that Haiti needs assistance right now to save lives, but it also needed assistance yesterday when the infant mortality rate was the 37th lowest in the world. When it comes to natural disasters, we – our governments, our media, ourselves – are victims of the same biases that cause impulse buying at the supermarket. Thousands of people dying from buildings falling on them instantly mobilises a huge amount of resources, but thousands of children dying from easily preventable diseases is just background noise. This is the uncomfortable reality of the aid world, but it’s not one that our media or governments really wants to hear.
Tyler Cowen wonders if Haiti really exists anymore:
From the reports I have seen, my tentative conclusion is that the country as a whole is currently below the subsistence level and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Hundreds of thousands of people have died, the U.N. Mission has collapsed, the government is not working (was it ever?), and hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of people are living in the streets without reliable food or water supplies. The hospitals and schools have collapsed. The airport is shut down. The port is very badly damaged. The Haitian Penitentiary has collapsed and the inmates — tough guys most of them – are running free for the foreseeable future. There is no viable police force or army.
In what sense does Haiti still have a government? How bad will it have to get before the U.N. or U.S. moves in and simply governs the place?
Amanda Taub talked about giving Haitians temporary work status:
I have one further suggestion: contact the White House and tell them that you support granting Haitians Temporary Protected Status (TPS) immediately.
Once a country has been given TPS, its nationals who are in the United States can apply for work authorization (a very useful thing to have if, say, one needs to send money home to family members in need of medical care or a house that has not been reduced to rubble), can’t be deported or put into immigration detention (also quite handy if you’re trying to work and send money home), and can apply for travel authorization, which allows them to visit their home country and return to the US, even if they wouldn’t otherwise have a visa that would allow them back into the country (incredibly important if you have loved ones who have been badly hurt and need to visit them, or if you need to go home to attend funerals).
Several bloggers beat me to the logical next step – first Chris Blattman:
Alternatively, as Michael Clemens suggests, simply let their people come.
And in more detail, the Roving Bandit:
How hard would it be for the US to take in Haiti?
How about a 10 year plan to (temporarily) double inflows and make an entire country of poor people’s citizens rich?
I think there’s a development case to be made for letting Haitians just leave Haiti, and the current humanitarian situation can only make that case stronger. What are the chances that Haiti is ever going to grow or develop? Let’s let them find a better place elsewhere.