How Can We Help?

typhoon_haiyanOnce again as we sit in our homes, warm and well fed, our televisions show a different picture of life across the oceans.

Right now estimates for loss of life in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan top 10,000. And survivors will have years of rebuilding ahead, as well as picking up the pieces of their shattered lives, recovering from the deaths of loved ones, or suffering illness because of poor diets, drinking water, and shelter.

In the midst of this, anxious to donate money to a worthwhile organization, I turned to the internet when my local newspaper had no suggestions.

After a week in which one of the charities I have supported for more than ten years has behaved badly, I’m a little war weary. This was a charity I had thoroughly researched before my first donation. But times change and so do policies and personnel. This time there’s no room for mistakes. This is an emergency, and the money needs to go to the right people in the right places immediately.

While several sources did have suggestions, I chose Huffington Post. But I’ve gone a step further. I’ve checked all their sources with Charity Navigator, a non-profit that evaluates how well and how efficiently charities do their jobs.

World Food Program: WFP has allocated an immediate 2 million dollars for Haiyan relief. This UN organization is sending 40 tons of fortified “biscuits” immediately and working to restore communications. I didn’t have to look far to find Charity Navigator’s rating. They are a four star organization with 60.44 out of 70 possible points

Red Cross: Most of us are familiar with the Red Cross, an international aid organization. When I clicked on the Red Cross donation page I was given four options for donating funds and had to look carefully to be sure my donation would go to typhoon relief. The webpage is spare and short on assurances, but this is an organization with personnel in place worldwide and well versed in giving aid.  Charity Navigator gives Red Cross a three star rating, with 56.46 out of 70 points.

Philippine Red Cross:  This is the country’s own branch of the larger Red Cross organization with instructions on how to send money right to Manila. For obvious reasons they are not evaluated by Charity Navigator.

Americares: A non-profit emergency response and global health organization, Americares has already shipped medical supplies to help 20,000 people and provided $10,000 to their local partners to purchase supplies to distribute. Charity Navigator gives them a 55.53 rating with only two stars for financial management. Financial looks at elements such as program and administrative expenses.

World Vision:  A Christian humanitarian organization that has served the Philippines since 1954. From my own experience and research I know that having a long term relationship with personnel already in place is key to getting aid where it’s most needed. Charity Navigator gives them 53 out of 70 points with only two stars under financial.

Shelter Box: This organization, with administration from the UK, provides families with survival kits. Charity Navigator gives them 59.90 out of 70 with three stars for financial management.

UNICEF:  Most of you will recognize this one. Charity Navigator gives them 63.30 points out of 70 and four stars all the way.

Salvation Army: Charity Navigator can’t rate this organization because it chooses not to fill out the full IRS form 990. You can view the incomplete financial statement that is available here.

Save The Children: Dedicated to giving every child a healthy start, children are the priority here in any emergency. Charity Navigator rates STC at 64.91 and four stars in both categories.

Doctors Without Borders:  An international medical humanitarian organization that recruits and sends medical personnel into the field. Charity Navigator gives this organization three stars and 57.11 points overall.

Operation USA: An international relief organization which has distributed water purification supplies and will continue to aid recovery efforts in communities in the Philippines and surrounding areas. Charity Navigator gives them 53.94 and three stars overall with only two stars for financial.

Who does Charity Navigator recommend in the wake of this disaster? Here’s their response, which includes several four star organizations not mentioned in Huffington Post’s article.

They also include this excellent advice: “…before you pick a charity and make a donation, consider what it is that you want your donation to accomplish (such as emergency aid, medical assistance, long term relief) and be sure to select the charity offering that specific type of aid.”

Where will you donate? Will you split your donation so your reach is broader? I hope this helps you make an informed decision. It’s certainly helped me.


  1. Beverly on November 12, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you, Emilie for helping us find the right place to send our money to help the people of the Phillipines. I will give to the World Food Program, because last night I saw people on the news asking for help with food. I know there is a great need for many things, but they need strength to go forward and rebuild. Food seems to be one of the greatest needs right now.

    • Emilie Richards on November 12, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      I agree, Beverly. I know your contribution will be appreciated.

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