Watchdogs recommends researching before you give money, with several lists of the most effective charities.
The devastating earthquakes have killed thousands of people in southern Turkey and northern Syria, and dozens of countries have deployed search and rescue teams as aid groups race to respond to the complex situation.
For those looking to donate to help the response, charity groups and watchdogs advise taking some basic steps.
First, they recommend researching the charity to make sure it’s reputable.
Second, they recommend determining whether a charity will be most effective in responding to a particular crisis.
Third, they usually recommend giving cash, which offers the most flexibility to select aid groups.
How to choose a charity?
Fortunately, several groups monitor and evaluate charities and their effective and efficient use of funds.
These include CharityWatch, which provides a database and general ratings of groups, including the percentage of a donation that will be used for operating costs. The group advises that potential donors double-check the names of purported charities, as impersonators may use names similar to long-standing organizations. It also recommends giving directly to a select group.
Meanwhile, Charity Navigator has compiled a list of 28 charitable groups most relevant to the disaster in Turkey and Syria, as well as ratings for each group.
The organization, which focuses on groups based in the United States or with offices in the country, gives high marks to the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, ICNA Relief USA, Plan International Inc and Direct Relief.
Also highly rated are the Zakat Foundation of America, GlobalGiving, Save the Children, CARE and the American Red Cross.
The Foundations Council also compiled a list of recommended organizations, including several local groups, that have launched emergency funds to respond to the situation in Turkey and Syria.
Among the groups are GlobalGiving, Give2Asia, Turkish Red Crescent, Turkish Mozaik Foundation and Turkish Philanthropic Funds.
Meanwhile, United Nations agencies, including its children’s fund, UNICEF, accept donations directly.
With the disasters disproportionately affecting the millions of Syrians displaced by 12 years of war, the UN refugee agency has also launched an appeal for donations to provide shelter and support.
Oxfam, an international organization fighting poverty, and Doctors Without Borders, a global medical aid organization, have also launched appeals for funds.
Aid to war-torn Syria presents a particularly complex challenge, and Syria’s UN ambassador told reporters on Tuesday that all aid should be provided in coordination with the government.
This comes as opposition-held areas in northwest Syria are largely cut off from aid deliveries due to damage to the only approved humanitarian crossing with Turkey. The Syrian Civil Defense, a rescue group also known as the White Helmets that operates in opposition-held parts of Syria, has launched a GoFundMe appeal for aid to aid their efforts in rebel-held areas.
The volunteer group receives funding from several Western governments, including the US and the UK.