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How to find reputable charities

Romy Arietta (left) sends balikbayan care boxes to his family in the Philippines regularly. Shipping companies that specialize in the delivery of these packages are now mobilizing to send goods to help with Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts.

When natural disasters hit, such as Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines earlier this week, the first thing many of us want to do is help. But, not every organization is reputable. So where do you know where to put your money?

The non-profit Charity Navigator.org features a rating system of one to four stars, of dozens of charities -- giving insight into not only which are best to give to, but how well they use the money you give. 

Sandra Miniutti, Vice president of Charity Navigator, explained what it takes to get a four-star rating on their website. "It excels in its financial health, which means most of it's money is going into its charitable programs, and not spent on fundriasing and administrative cost," Miniutti says. 

But, that's not all it takes. "It's bringing in more money each year, reinvesting that money in its programs," she says. "It promises to donors it won’t sell their information to other charities, which how you end up on all those lists and with a mailbox full of appeals."

When a disaster occurs, you want to find quickly which companies are worth donating to. Here are a few tips:

 

Charity Navigator gave these relief organizations high reviews:

GlobalGivingThis organization is focusing on delivering or securing food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products, and shelter for survivors. GlobalGiving also promises a transparent process with updates on how donations are used and when aid is received.

Mercy CorpsVolunteers from Mercy Corps are deploying to the region to deliver basic supplies like food and water. This organization also has a good track record for transparency and efficient use of donations. To donate by phone, call: 1-888-747-7440.

UNICEFUNICEF's aid focuses primarily on helping children. The organization is focused on delivering essential medicines, food, safe water and hygiene supplies to children and families in the area. You can donate online, call 1-800-367-5437 or text RELIEF to 864233.

The Phillipine Red CrossThe Phillipine chapter of the Red Cross is providing meals and relief items, as well as tracking services for people looking for missing family members. Local Red Cross chapters are also accepting donations.

The World Food ProgrammeThe World Food Programme focuses on delivering food aid to children and families. Text the word AID to 27722 to donate $10 or call 1-202-747-0722.

Convoy of HopeThis organization has already distributed aid like food, water-purification kits, and clothing in hard-hit areas like Cebu and promises more is on the way. Convoy of Hope regularly posts updates on families and individuals that they help.

Direct ReliefDirect Relief primarily delivers medical aid to impoverished regions and posts regularly on the progress ofhow donations are used.

Doctors Without BordersThe well-known organization has already mobilized its doctors in the country and promises more aid including medical and psychological treatment.

About the author

Carmen Wong Ulrich is the former host of Marketplace Money, APM’s weekend personal finance program.

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