December 21, 2016

Wise Giving Wednesday: Donations to Help Syrian Refugees

Over a year ago, BBB Wise Giving Alliance distributed a donor advisory about Syrian refugee assistance.  It is with deep sadness that a year later, the crisis for Syrian refugees continues to escalate, particularly in the aftermath of the destruction of Aleppo.  Amnesty International reports that over the course of  five years of warfare, over 4.8 million Syrians have fled to five countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt) and that the UN estimates another 13.5 million are currently in need within Syria itself.

During this season of giving, many generous American donors will respond to help Syrians in need. We advise contributors to keep the following tips in mind to help identify trustworthy relief efforts and to help avoid those seeking to take advantage of public sympathy about a tragic and devastating situation. With so much as stake, every donation counts.  However, one of the difficulties in providing help within Syria itself, as reported by a December 13th blog posted by CARE, is that “Since 2012, all humanitarian assistance delivered outside of government supervision is prohibited.”

Find Out What the Charity Does.
There are a variety of organizations involved in assisting Syrian refugees as well as those still in Syria. Make sure you know what activities the charity is carrying out before you make a gift. Some organizations are focused on providing food, water, basic necessities and medical care while others are assisting with housing, childcare and education. In most cases, you can’t tell what the charity does based on its name alone.

Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas.
Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to bring in new aid workers to provide assistance quickly. As noted above, this is particularly true in Syria due to government restrictions on aid and the danger posed to relief workers providing assistance.

Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims.
Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs.

Determine if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups.
Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations.  If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and giving directly to those that have a presence in the region.

The following organizations are collecting funds for Syrian refugee relief and meet all of the BBB Charity Standards:

ActionAid USA
American Refugee Committee

CARE USA

Catholic Relief Services
Church World Service
Concern Worldwide US
GlobalGiving
Helping Hand for Relief and Development
International Medical Corps
International Rescue Committee
Islamic Relief USA
Lutheran World Relief
Medical Teams International
Mennonite Central Committee
Mercy Corps
Oxfam America
Plan International USA
Save the Children
SOS Children’s Villages-USA
United States Fund for UNICEF
World Relief
World Vision

Finally, remember to let us know by going to https://www.give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ if you are  interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one. 

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance