Where Things Stand: U.S. Charity Donations to Haiti

The images from Haiti were devastating: of hands reaching out from under piles of rubble, of slabs of concrete where buildings once stood, and of orphaned children crying out for their parents.

They awoke a sleeping giant in Americans. People wanted to help. In the days and weeks after the earthquake, charitable donations poured in to relief organizations

All over the country Americans opened their wallets and poured almost half a billion dollars into 23 top American charities, according to figures compiled by ABC News.

ABC News reached out to these charities to find out more about where all of the money was going.

VIDEO: Americans donated millions, but is the money making a difference in Haiti?
Following the Money in Haiti

While some of the money is being spent, most of it still sits in bank accounts.

Following the Money

When asked by ABC News to provide numbers on spending for food & water, medical care, shelter and operational costs, four of the organizations -- Operation USA, American Refugee Committee, Merlin and Doctors Without Borders -- did not offer specifics. The most common answer was they just, "don't have the exact breakdown," on current spending. Several of organizations offered up descriptions of specific relief, but were not able to assign dollar figures to their efforts.

The largest recipient of donations-- the Red Cross-- said it's spent about a third of the quarter billion dollars it raised, mostly on food and water but also on shelter items like tents, blankets and tarps. The Red Cross is also providing hygiene kits, kitchen sets, drinking water and vaccinations.

Another organization, Oxfam America has opened eight different sites in Haiti, providing clean drinking water and latrines. They say they are serving 90,000 people.

And a medium-sized charity -- International Medical Corps -- raised $4.5 million and has spent about $1.6 million. They began operating at Haiti's University hospital on the day after the earthquake. The group is "operating 13 mobile clinic sites covering 15 sites," according to their Web site, serving a target population of approximately 450,000.

World Vision provided the most detail about its work. As of Feb. 5, World Vision raised about $77 million worldwide including $25 million in cash from the U.S. Among their priorities-- shelter, water and sanitation, and efforts to protect children.

The Hope for Haiti Now telethon also aided the relief efforts in a big way.

Americans donated $66 million through the telethon; about half of the money has been distributed to seven different charities--

On its Web site, the telethon organizers say they expect to make one or two more large distributions. But the next allocation of funds is not planned until May.

Donation Breakdown

In total, of the half a billion dollars sent to Haiti relief organizations contacted by ABC News, 18 percent is already being spent on food and water, Additionally, 11 percent is going toward medical supplies and clinics, six percent on housing, and two percent on operations.

For a closer look at the ABC News' breakdown of charity donations, click: U.S. Charity Donations to Haiti

But here's the catch. The money now being spent is only a small fraction of the total donations given. Most of the donations made to the relief efforts -- 69 percent or $325 million -- have not been spent on anything yet.

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