9 Best Charities for Helping Immigrants (Complete 2022 List)

9 Best Charities for Helping Immigrants (Complete 2022 List)

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Olivia Lopez

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All people, regardless of their nationality, deserve the right to build safe lives for themselves, especially when in a new country. However, many immigrants encounter obstacles and prejudices when relocating, integrating, and assimilating into new communities. And with so many charities offering support to immigrants, we had to ask: What are the best charities for helping immigrants?

The best charities for helping immigrants are Catholic Charities USA, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and the International Rescue Committee. These charities advocate for immigrants’ rights, safety, and protection. They also work to eliminate discrimination against immigrant communities.

Whether you want to volunteer to assist immigrants in your community, become an activist for immigrants, or donate resources to help immigrants, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for helping immigrants are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Related: Did you know that you can make Amazon donate 0.5% of your purchases to a charitable organization of your choice. Sign up at smile.amazon.com, select the charity you want your donations to go to, and make Amazon donate a part of your purchases to your chosen charity at no extra cost to you.

Here’s What All the Best Charities for Helping Immigrants Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their commitment to helping immigrants, their transparency ratings, and their impact on immigrants’ rights. They provide a range of legal and social services that safeguard, uplift, and empower immigrants in need. They deliver their services to immigrants with various statuses, including undocumented immigrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees.

These charities also strive to raise awareness on issues that affect immigrant populations, and advocate for the equal rights of diverse immigrant groups. They offer their support to immigrants from all countries and backgrounds, including those from Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Europe. And they all share the same goal of helping immigrants.

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Helping Immigrants

Below are our favorite charities for helping immigrants:

  • Catholic Charities USA
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • International Rescue Committee
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • National Immigration Law Center
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • American Immigration Council
  • Immigration Equality
  • Asylum Access

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

Catholic Charities USA: Advocating for Impoverished Immigrants 

Catholic Charities USA was founded in 1910 as the National Conference of Catholic Charities, to deliver social and legal services to people from poorer backgrounds, including immigrant communities. In 1986, the organization’s name was formally changed to Catholic Charities, to showcase their dedication to serving communities across the US. Today, their headquarters is based in Alexandria, Virginia.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Catholic Charities USA holds a 4-star rating, and an Accountability and Transparency score of 96 out of 100, both from Charity Navigator. They have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. And in 2015, they welcomed their first female president, highlighting their commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace. 

To provide essential services to immigrants and refugees to the U.S.

Catholic Charities USA

What they do: Catholic Charities USA provides a range of support services to immigrants in need, including legal representation and application assistance, community outreach, and citizenship education. They empower immigrant communities and advocate for more immigrant-inclusive policies on a state and federal level. They also assist unaccompanied minors entering the US, and help facilitate family reunifications.

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, Catholic Charities USA have assisted thousands of immigrants and refugees during their resettlement in the US. For example, in 2020, they filed over 3,600 immigration applications with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In the same year, they resettled 2,729 refugees. Of those refugees, more than 500 found jobs with Catholic Charities’ assistance. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to Catholic Charities USA by donating through their website. They also welcome other charitable donations, such as real estate, vehicles, and stocks. 

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: Safeguarding Immigrant and Refugee Children 

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) was founded in 1939 to aid Lutheran refugees fleeing conflict zones in Europe. By the 1960s, they expanded their work and began resettling non-Lutherans as well, including those coming from the most severe humanitarian crises. In 1989, the organization began offering legal services to refugees to offer them reliable counsel and assistance with their asylum applications.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service have a Finance and Accountability score of 100 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2019, nearly 91% of their income was spent on their immigration and advocacy programs. 

All migrants and refugees are protected, embraced and empowered in a world of just and welcoming communities.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

What they do: Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service deliver legal and social services to immigrants and refugees of all ages. Many of their initiatives focus on protecting the most vulnerable migrant communities, including children. They also offer tailored support to foster children and assist with family reunifications.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has served more than 500,000 immigrants, and expanded across more than 15 US states. For example, in 2019, they resettled more than 3,802 refugees, and another 1,243 special immigrant visa holders. In the same year, they assisted 94 unaccompanied refugee minors. They also secured more than 2,424 family reunifications. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service by donating through their website. You can also show your support by volunteering with one of their local partners or by advocating for immigrants’ rights to the government.

International Rescue Committee: Protecting Refugees Worldwide

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) was founded in 1933 by Albert Einstein, to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees fleeing from Nazi Germany. The organization then went on to deliver aid to refugees from around Europe, such as Italy and Spain, that were also fleeing conflicts. Today, the IRC operates around the globe to tackle the most severe refugee crises. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The International Rescue Committee holds an Accountability and Transparency score of 97 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2020, they spent nearly 87% of their income on their refugee programs and services. 

To ensure equal protection under the law and civic integration of refugees and immigrants.

International Rescue Committee

What they do: The International Rescue Committee delivers life-saving services and aid to refugees and asylum-seekers in humanitarian crises. They provide educational resources, health care, and social and legal support to immigrants from various backgrounds, particularly those that are most vulnerable, such as women and children. They also assist refugees with assimilation into their new communities by offering language courses, and education and employment support.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the International Rescue Committee has expanded to serve refugees in more than 40 countries, including the US, Iraq, and Myanmar. For example, in 2020, they helped over 5,000 immigrants become US citizens. They also helped another 9,300 refugees in Greece, after a fire destroyed the camp. In the same year, they also secured permanent, safe housing in Europe for over 3,600 asylum-seekers.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the International Rescue Committee by donating directly through their website. You can also show your support by volunteering with them, or by calling on the government to take action and protect refugees. 

American Civil Liberties Union: Fighting for Immigrants’ Rights and Liberties

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was founded in 1920 by civil rights activists including Roger Baldwin, Helen Keller, Crystal Eastman, Albert DeSilver, Jane Addams, Felix Frankfurter, and Arthur Garfield Hayes. They established the ACLU to defend the US constitution and people’s civil liberties amidst ongoing turmoil in the post-war era. Today, the ACLU tackles discriminatory policies that wrongfully target immigrants and compromise their rights

Their impact and transparency ratings: The ACLU currently holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, and they have an impressive Accountability and Transparency score of 96 out of 100, also from Charity Navigator. They have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar – the highest rank possible. 

“Using targeted impact litigation, advocacy, and public outreach, the ACLU protects the rights and liberties of immigrants.”

American Civil Liberties Union

What they do: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defends immigrants’ rights through impact litigation and advocacy to ignite social change. They campaign for immigrants’ rights by providing legal services to immigrant detainees, fighting for the protection of DACA recipients, and defending immigrants from discrimination. They also offer legal support to marginalized, immigrant groups, such as ethnic and religious minorities. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has amassed more than 4 million member activists across the country to advocate for immigrants’ rights. For example, in 2020, they won a case that protected the status of more than 700,000 DACA recipients. In the same year, they also secured the release of 430 immigrant detainees held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. The year prior, they filed and won a case that had attempted to omit immigrants from the US Census.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the American Civil Liberties Union by donating directly through their website. You can also give over the phone, or sign up for a monthly membership to make regular donations. 

National Immigration Law Center: Advocating For Immigrant Inclusion

The National Immigration Law Center was founded in 1979 to provide low-income immigrants with legal representation. Along with promoting and defending immigrants’ rights, they also advocate for policy changes that are more inclusive of immigrants, and raise awareness on the diverse immigrant communities present in the US. They have offices in Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The National Immigration Law Center holds an Accountability and Transparency score of 100 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

To defend and advance the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their family members.

National Immigration Law Center

What they do: The National Immigration Law Center advances immigrants’ rights and inclusion through advocacy and research. They promote diversity by recognizing various immigrant communities. They also challenge harmful legislation that undermines immigrants’ equality, or segregates them from society. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, the National Immigration Law Center has participated in numerous lawsuits to promote greater inclusion for low-income immigrants. For example, in 2014, they filed 2 federal complaints under the Affordable Care Act to highlight discriminatory and non-inclusive access to services. They have also developed more than 4 advocacy toolkits, to provide more immigrant inclusion in the health care, education, and social sectors. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the National Immigration Law Center by donating through their website. You can also take action by signing one of their petitions, tweeting at Congress, or emailing your senators. 

Southern Poverty Law Center: Ensuring Immigrant Justice and Equality

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was founded in 1971 by Morris Dees, a lawyer from Alabama, to provide protection to vulnerable communities that face the most discrimination, including immigrants. Today, SPLC delivers a range of legal services to immigrants and advocates for the rights of detainees, asylum-seekers, and immigrant families.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Southern Poverty Law Center maintains a 4-star rating and an Accountability and Transparency score of 97 out of 100, both from Charity Navigator. They also have a Silver Star of Transparency from GuideStar

To protect the rights of immigrants and their children to ensure they are treated with dignity and fairness.

Southern Poverty Law Center

What they do: The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) promotes the equal rights of all people, especially immigrants, and fights for immigrant justice. They achieve this by challenging discriminatory laws and protecting immigrants’ rights through strategic litigation.

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has expanded to provide training and pro bono legal services to 4 immigration detention centers in the Deep South. For example, in 2019, they filed a lawsuit against the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to represent 100 Latin American workers who were detained based on their perceived ethnicity and immigrant status.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the SPLC by donating through the organization’s website. You can also fundraise for the organization by signing up as a canvasser. SPLC also welcomes employer matching, so you can encourage your employer to match your donation to the charity.  

American Immigration Council: Securing Immigrants’ Legal Rights

The American Immigration Council was founded in 1987 by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), to provide legal advocacy for immigrants in the US. The American Immigration Council utilizes their unique partnership with the AILA to give immigrants in detention centers adequate legal representation and support. Today, their headquarters is based in Washington, DC.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The American Immigration Council has a 4-star rating and an Accountability and Transparency score of 93 out of 100, both from Charity Navigator. They hold a Financial score of 91 out of 100, also from Charity Navigator, showcasing their commitment to immigrants’ legal rights.

We envision an America that values fairness and justice for immigrants and advances a prosperous future for all.

American Immigration Council

What they do: The American Immigration Council challenges discriminatory legislation that compromises the rights of immigrants. They advocate for fair trials and deliver legal services to immigrant detainees. They also execute communications strategies that encourage community cohesion and understanding, to ensure immigrants are welcomed and assimilated into society.

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, the American Immigration Council has engaged thousands of volunteers to support their work. For example, in 2019, they enlisted more than 4,000 volunteer activists to promote and defend the rights of immigrants. In the same year, they provided legal services to 10,086 families that were held in immigration detention facilities. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the American Immigration Council by donating directly through their website. You can also show your support by attending one of their upcoming events to raise awareness on immigrants’ rights issues.

Immigration Equality: Defending LGBTQ+ and HIV-Positive Immigrants

Immigration Equality was founded in 1994 by three volunteer attorneys to advocate for LGBTQ+ and HIV-positive immigrants. Since then, they have won several landmark cases to advance the rights of LGBTQ+ and HIV-positive immigrants, including affirming citizenship for children of gay couples, and overturning a law that forbade HIV-positive people from immigrating to the US. Today, their headquarters is based in New York City. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Immigration Equality holds a Finance and Accountability score of 75 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.  

“To promote justice and equality for LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants and families through direct legal services, policy advocacy, and impact litigation.

Immigration Equality

What they do: Immigration Equality advocates for the equal rights of LGBTQ+ and HIV-positive immigrants in the US. They provide pro bono legal services to immigrants and asylum-seekers, especially those held in detention centers. They aim to raise awareness on issues that impact LGBTQ+ and HIV-positive migrants, and work on impact legislation to promote policy reforms.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Immigration Equality has helped over 1,000 LGBTQ+ and HIV-positive immigrants successfully obtain asylum in the US. For example, in 2020, they offered pro bono legal services to more than 760 immigrants across 28 US states. They have also implemented a detention helpline to give free support to LGBTQ+ and HIV-positive immigrants, which has reached over 1,500 detainees.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to Immigration Equality by donating through their website. You can also show your support by attending one of their events, offering to volunteer, or by joining one of their activist movements to support immigrants. 

Asylum Access: Empowering Refugees and Asylum-Seekers

Asylum Access was founded in 2005 by Emily Arnold-Fernández, a human rights advocate, to safeguard the rights of refugees during displacement and relocation. She was inspired to create an organization that enhanced the rights of refugees, after working in Egypt and realizing that many are still deprived of rights, even if they have legal status. Today, Asylum Access is headquartered in Oakland, California.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Asylum Access holds an Accountability and Transparency score of 97 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

To create a world where refugees everywhere can live safely, move freely, work, attend school and rebuild their lives.

Asylum Access

What they do: Asylum Access offers free legal services and empowerment to refugees across their target countries. They advocate for national policy reforms that are inclusive of refugees and empower marginalized immigrant communities. They also strive to give refugees the necessary tools and resources to assimilate into their new communities and safely rebuild their lives.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Asylum Access has reached over 95,000 asylum-seekers globally and provided services in more than 5 countries, including Jordan, Colombia, and Kenya. For example, in 2019, they reached more than 8,000 immigrants with their legal aid programs. In the same year, they also reached another 10,388 people with their educational programs.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to Asylum Access by donating online via their website. You can also show your support by volunteering with them to help refugees. 

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for helping immigrants. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarize yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing the progress a charity makes in reaching its targets, the chances are not making positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is just up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to helping immigrants – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Brittany



PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

Sources

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Olivia Lopez

Olivia loves to research and write about all things related to social justice. She holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights and has worked and interned with a number of NGOs, including the UN. When she’s not writing, she likes to take her dog for walks, cook Mexican food, and learn new languages.

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