How to Donate to International Emergencies

Find Information and What Charities to Support

Disaster and war force Sudanese regugees into camp.
Sudanese refugess. Jadwiga Figula Photography/Getty Images

Look anywhere on the globe and you'll find a multitude of emergencies and people who need help. Because of 24/7 media and online access, we can't avoid seeing and hearing about dire situations everywhere.

Nor should we avoid them.  But, with so much information, it's hard to know what to do or how to help..

Our first job is to find the best and most balanced news about a situation that we can. That may not be the most obvious sources.

We should look a little more deeply. 

Our second task should be to find organizations helping in a particular situation. And third, we should donate to charities with a good track record in using their resources wisely and efficiently.

Sources for International News and Information

  • UN News Centre. The United Nations may be your best source for information about international needs. On its news site, you'll find breaking news, as well as tabs for news from Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. To donate to the UN's humanitarian projects such as UNICEF for children and WFP for food relief, go to the UN's humanitarian relief page.

  • To learn about emergencies around the world beyond the television news headlines, check out the Reuters Foundation website. Devoted to humanitarian needs around the world., this site carries news about the latest crises. But also, across the top of the homepage, you can click on categories, such as climate, food, and women's rights.  

    How to Find the Most Relevant Charities

    • To discover what charities (also known as NGOs) are active in a particular geographic area or crisis, check out  CharityNavigator. CN features charities on its homepage that may be relevant to what is happening right now. But you can also browse charities by category. One category is “International.” Take a look at the "Hot Topics" as well.
    • You can also visit Global Giving, an online marketplace for international giving. You can browse and select from an extensive offering of projects, organized by geography or by themes such as international, health care, the environment, and education. When you find a project that interests you, just contribute any amount right there, online.

    How to Find the Safest Charities

    • To learn how to determine what charities are worthy of your donation, see our Safe Giving Guide.  Then use the resources at, a part of the Better Business Bureau; CharityNavigator for charity ratings; and GiveWell for recommendations based on effectiveness.
    • To learn more about "effective altruism," stop by The Life You Can Save. That's the website of Peter Singer, author, scholar, and advocate for the world's poorest. Singer recommends specific charities that he considers the best in their particular specialties.
    • When in doubt, donate to organizations with long histories in disaster relief, such as the American Red Cross, Mercy Corps, CARE, and Doctors Without Borders.

    Once you've donated to help with a specific situation, remember that crises have a long recovery. Don't give once and forget. Keep giving long after the emergency has faded from the headlines.

    One of the best ways to do your part for emergency help is to find an organization you trust and give to it monthly. The charity benefits, it's convenient for you, and you'll have the satisfaction of being there for the long haul.

    For more tips about helping in an emergency, read The Dos and Don'ts of Helping During a Disaster.