As a follow-up to my previous post on giving to Haiti, I saw this article on CNN today about giving cash as opposed to goods during the relief effort. The article indicates that goods are not always usable. You could donate baby formula, but what if the country mostly breastfeeds their children and/or the water is so contaminated there is no way to mix it. Your donation won't do any good if the item is not usable or it is expired, or not sensitive to the culture of the country.
Additionally, many of the large organizations have methods in place for shipping and moving items throughout the affected areas. Donations of goods that must be sent can backlog ports that are already busy with organizations working in the area delivering relief on a large scale in an organized approach. Additionally, it can be more costly to ship the goods than to buy them locally or regionally, if available.
Just more reasons we should consider what we are donating and who we are donating to.