Money from the usual charities, notably The American Red Cross, did very little to help the people of New Orleans. Peter Rothberg of The Nation has provided some resources.
He suggests starting with Katrina Action
If you don't have the time to put in to Spike Lee film parties, but you do have the change to help people, here are my suggestions:
1. Common Ground
, for which donations can be sent through:
Community Futures Collective
221 Idora Ave
2. People's Hurricane Fund
1418 N. Claiborne Ave.
New Orleans LA 70116
ACORN Institute - Hurricane Recovery and Rebuilding Fund
1024 Elysian Fiekds Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70117
You may or may not get a tax deduction. A lot of the most effective organizations do advocacy as well as relief work, so they don't get the special IRS treatment.
Remember: If every middle class American family gave $5 every week for a year, it would be enough to build a standard home for everyone displaced from New Orleans. What matters is how the money gets spent. Over this weekend, I saw a lot of talk about Katrina, but what has been conspicuously missing is effective action.