After seeing all the destruction and suffering on the news after Typhoon Haiyan struck one of the poorest parts of the Philippines last November, I felt the need to donate. Charities sprung up all over my social media accounts, yet I was hesitant to choose any of them. I didn't want to donate my hard-earned cash to an organization that would spend the majority of my funds on administration or other fees that would keep my money from victims in need. So I did my research and discovered how to properly choose a charity.
It's important to pay attention to how your donation is allocated. The best charities will always show you how they use your money. Almost all of your funds (about 90%) should go directly to the cause while the remaining will go toward the organization's fundraising and administration. Look for the Better Business Bureau stamp, as well as CharityNavigator.org's star rating (four stars is the best).
With the New Year here and resolutions underway, it's important to know what organizations you can trust if you plan on adding "help others" to your list. Here are five reliable charities you may want to consider:
1. Doctors Without Borders
Started in France in 1971, Doctors Without Borders focuses on providing medical assistance to victims of conflict in over 60 countries. Whether victims’ healthcare needs result from war, catastrophe, neglect or malnutrition, Doctors Without Borders is there to help without any hidden agendas. This organization operates independently without any political, religious or military influences.
2. American Red Cross
One of the country’s most popular charities, the American Red Cross does it all. Maybe you've even donated blood to them. They serve Americans and communities abroad by assisting in disaster relief, providing health and safety services, and supporting our military families. Internationally, they educate and help build safer communities.
3. International Rescue Committee
Founded by Albert Einstein in 1933, the International Rescue Committee helps refugees survive and rebuild their lives. They focus on providing aid to some of the globe's worst humanitarian crises and have a presence in over 40 countries and 22 US cities, advocate for change and speak out on behalf of those who can't. And if you donate online by December 31st, IRC will match your contribution dollar-for-dollar.
4. St. Jude
Named after the patron saint of the helpless, St. Jude has changed the lives of our youngest citizens by treating children with cancer and other devastating illnesses. The research they're able to do has changed pediatric medicine and has improved survival rates for children for over 50 years.
Kiva helps people from poverty-stricken nations by providing them with microfinance loans. They lend people money (as little as $25) so that they can create opportunities for their families and communities in countries where traditional banking systems aren't accessible. And you can be sure that 100% of every dollar donated goes directly to funding loans.