Accountants and accounting firms helping Haiti disaster victims

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Across the U.S., firms and individuals in the accounting profession are answering the urgent need for help for victims of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake disaster in the island republic of Haiti on January 12. The vast extent of the devastation in Port au Prince Haiti is becoming clearer with each day. Today new estimates of over 200,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless emphasize the grimness of the situation and the immediate need for help. In addition, a 6.1 magnitude aftershock this week, with more aftershocks possible in the next few days, means that even more devastation is possible.

Below is news, gathered from various sources on help being pledged or provided by numerous accounting firms, individuals, and organizations:

Jeremy Newman, CEO of BDO International reports that BDO, which has offices in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is heavily involved in the Haiti disaster relief effort. The major funding drive in BVI is being spearheaded by the Rotary Clubs of Tortola, of which the BDO managing partner and one of his colleagues is a member; the latter is appearing on a Telethon being broadcast on local TV and radio and is an integral member of the organizing committee. He is responsible for the IT and is heading up the finance function. BDO BVI and BDO International are both donating to this effort. BDO Cayman Islands is also heavily involved in the activities of the Rotary Clubs. A member of the managing partner's club has a house that's still standing which is currently acting as a temporary hospital for 100 plus people, and he has spoken with CNN to share information. Newman states",I am proud of the response of our firms and our people – it demonstrates our concern for others and the world we live in." More information is available on Newman's blog, CEO Insights.

The American Institute of CPAs is asking CPAs and others to donate money to help the victims of last week's devastating earthquake in Haiti.

"This earthquake struck the poorest nation in our hemisphere with devastating ferocity", said AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon in a statement. "The scope of this tragedy is unimaginable and heartbreaking, and the AICPA and the accounting profession will be part of the relief effort."

The AICPA is accepting donations from member CPAs to its disaster relief fund, CPAs in Support of America Fund Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization that was formed in the wake of 9/11 and was later used to collect contributions for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. All of the contributions will be used to help victims of the Haitian earthquake on behalf of the U.S. accounting profession.

The AICPA also advised that donors wishing to participate in the Haitian relief effort in other ways should give to reputable organizations and research their options. Charitable gifts are tax-deductible and CPAs are able to advise taxpayers about what the requirements are for claiming a deduction on their taxes. Information about charities recognized by the IRS may be researched online at Information about groups working in Haiti is also available through the U.S. State Department and the United Nations.

The AICPA has also published a Disaster Recovery Guide aimed at helping Americans who lose their homes or are displaced by storms, floods, and earthquakes. While the guide is focused on Americans, many of the same basic principles apply to Haitians as they recover from this earthquake.

The AICPA's Web site provides free tools, articles, resources and a list of where donations can be made.

AICPA members interested in contributing to the Haitian relief efforts can call (877) CPA-4ALL.

The following news has been posted on various accounting sites and blogs on the Internet. these are not all confirmed and you should check the Internet sites and the accompanying articles on how to verify donation sites before donating.

Deloitte – The firm contributed a substantial amount to the Red Cross and has placed a link on their Web page where Deloitte professionals are encouraged to donate to either the Red Cross/International Response Fund (immediate disaster assistance) or to the United Way Worldwide Disaster Fund for long-term relief efforts. Donations will be earmarked for Earthquake Recovery.

Moss Adams – The Firm is matching 100% of employee contributions up to $100,000. As of today, partner and employee contributions amounted to $30,000 and the firm is matching these contributions with $30,000 donations to both the Red Cross and World Vision.

Ernst & Young – The Firm has created the "Ernst & Young Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund" and donated a substantial amount to get things started. All the funds donated by the firm and its professionals will go directly to Save the Children, Doctors without Borders, and Partners in Health.

KPMG – KPMG LLP is committed to doing its part to assist those impacted by the earthquake in Haiti. KPMG has established the KPMG Disaster Relief Fund for Haiti. Member firms from the Americas including KPMG in the United States have pledged to match employees' donations to this fund. The funds will then be directed to a variety of international relief agencies, such as Save the Children, World Vision, and UNICEF.

Grant Thornton – The firm is matching employee contributions up to $50,000. The funds will be donated to the Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

McKonly & Asbury – According to Greg Lowe, a partner at the firm, he and his fellow partners and employees are working with Hope International to raise funds for the relief efforts.

Below are a number of relief organizations that accounting firms and accountants have recommended as sites for Haiti Earthquake disaster relief donations.

American Red Cross: You can also donate by text message. The Red Cross has initiated a text message fundraising effort, Text 'Haiti' to 90999 to send $10 to the Red Cross for their relief fund. To date, more than $8 million has been raised just through this text effort alone, demonstrating the power of technology. The American Red Cross sees "immediate needs for food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support" in Haiti. Donations can be made on the Red Cross Web site or by calling (800) RedCross.

UNICEF: "Despite heavy damages to its own offices in Port-au-Prince, UNICEF is ready to provide immediate support to the victims of the unfolding humanitarian crisis." That's a statement from UNICEF's Web site. Get details and donate online or call (800) For Kids or (800) 367-5437.

Mercy Corps is accepting donations by phone at (888) 256-1900.

Three Baltimore organizations that are collecting money for earthquake relief -- World Relief, Catholic Relief Services and Lutheran World Relief.

And that's just for starters. CBS News offers a terrific list of charitable organizations that are offering help to the people of Haiti.

Also, there have been a couple of reports in the media about how to avoid online scams that target our inner humanitarians. Read more about how to avoid being duped on and in the Baltimore Business Journal.

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