To the untrained eye, all humanitarian organizations might seem similar, but that’s far from being the truth. Some organizations actually work as a front to advance certain agendas. Others have an antiquated notion of what humanitarian aid should be. This is why it’s very important that the right organizations get attention and donations, not only the most well-known or those who already are getting the most. Here are a few things everyone should think about when supporting a humanitarian organization.
The Nature of their Work and their Vision
For too many years, humanitarian organizations have worked to deal with the effects of crises and not the causes. Providing basic necessities is something everyone wants, but you also have to deal with the insecurity that comes after. Being dependent on an organization for food and shelter is unsustainable and not a way to live.
On the other hand, you have plenty of refugee organizations that focus on giving the people they work with dignity. This isn’t something you will hear often in non-profit organizations’ speeches, but that’s what most people who are in need of humanitarian help really need. They want more than food and water; they want a way to get out of their situation and fend for themselves. So, make sure that you look at the organization’s ethos and efforts and see if they’re consistent with your core beliefs.
Global vs Local
You also need to know at what level you want to make an impact. You have organizations that work locally and others that work on global issues. You also have some that operate on both fronts.
If you want to help locally, it’s often better to go with a local organization. You’ll get the chance to see them in action. You’ll be able to see the results of their work and their effect on the community. These organizations are often also struggling with donations and get overshadowed by bigger organizations, so that would be a chance to both help them and the people they serve.
Conduct a Background Check
You cannot take whatever an organization is saying at face value. You can’t go based on gut either. You have to make sure that you check the organization’s finances first. You have organizations such as givewell.org, guidestar.org, charitywatch.org, and charitynavigator.org that will look up the financial health of various organizations.
They will check a non-profit’s governance documents and tax filings, so you won’t have to. They also present their findings in an easy to read and honest manner. This is the best way to quantitatively measure these organizations’ work.
Another thing you could do is look at trusted institutions and who they support. If your church, alma mater, or employer supports a charity, then there is a greater chance that it will be legitimate since it will have most likely been thoroughly vetted.
If you want to make a difference and support a charity, make sure that you put them to the test first. This ensures the money you invest ends up in the right hands.