If you’re looking to make the holidays about more than just material goods this year, donating either time or money to charities may be the move for you.
However, when it comes to picking a charity, there are many factors to consider. For instance, how do you go about selecting a charity that is meaningful to you, while also maximizing its impact?
The Red Cross, for example, has come under fire numerous times for not properly utilizing the donations they receive in response to natural disasters.
In 2010, the Red Cross raised nearly half a billion dollars in response to the devastation of the earthquake in Haiti, according to a report from NPR. Five years after the fact, however, in 2015, NPR and ProPublica published a revealing expose illustrating that it was “difficult to know where all the money went.”
Haiti was not rebuilt. Instead, the Red Cross left behind a legacy of “poorly managed projects, questionable spending and dubious claims of success.” For example:
The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people, but the number of permanent homes the charity has built is six.
And most recently, with Hurricane Harvey relief, the Red Cross has continued to make questionable decisions when it comes to donations.
Dearly previously reported on a woman in Texas who was allegedly turned away from helping “hungry evacuees.” In a post on Facebook, Lindsey Scott claimed:
I’m astonished at the behavior of the Red Cross husband/wife team at the mid-county Jack Brooks airport yesterday. Who together accosted me and took turns berating me because I was trying to bring 400 warm hamburgers to our hungry evacuees, who according to them did not need the food because they had “already had a sandwhich.” Yes, they had 1 sandwhich in 24 hours. They were desperate for a hot meal! The Red Cross proceeded to try and load the warm, ready to eat burgers into an ice chest.
So in order to help charity-givers maximize their impact, Charity Navigator has compiled a list of well-researched and well-known charities that are worthy of your support. With overall scores ranging from 96.83-100, consider the following organizations:
- Direct Relief:
Direct Relief is a humanitarian aid organization, active in all 50 states and more than 80 countries, with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies. Nongovernmental, nonsectarian, and not-for-profit, Direct Relief provides assistance to people and communities without regard to politics, religion, ethnic identities or ability to pay.
- MAP International:
[A] Christian organization providing life-changing medicines and health supplies to people in need. In times of disaster, MAP provides immediate humanitarian assistance and relief aid including medicines and health supplies to those left homeless and without access to basic services.
- The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International:
[D]evelop and carry out sustainable humanitarian projects and provide scholarships and professional training opportunities that promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water, sustain mothers and children, improve education, and strengthen local economies.
- The Conservation Fund:
By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are re-defining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. We have the highest program allocation – putting 97% of our resources toward mission – and lowest fundraising costs in our field and continue to outperform for our efficiency and effectiveness.
- The Carter Center:
[G]uided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering; it seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.
- Doctors Without Borders, USA:
[A[n international medical humanitarian organization that provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.
Americares saves lives and improves health for people affected by poverty or disaster so they can reach their full potential.
- Patient Services Incorporated:
PSI has helped people who live with certain chronic illnesses or conditions locate suitable health insurance coverage and access ways to satisfy expensive co-payments.
- National Council of YMCAs of the USA:
[M]ission-driven YMCAs are a place to belong and to live the values that guide and unite our members: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.
- Catholic Medical Mission Board:
[A] leading faith-based NGO improving global health care for the world’s poor, by building healthy, sustainable communities through community engagement and partnerships
Before donating this year, consider what’s important to you and do your research. That way, your time and resources can go a long way. And your decision to giving back can be a stress-free form of altruism that lasts far beyond this holiday season.