9 Best Charities for Humanitarian Aid (Complete 2023 List)

9 Best Charities for Humanitarian Aid (Complete 2023 List)

Diana Stancu

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Every year, more than 200 million people needed humanitarian relief and protection. A number bound to only increase with the rise of medical, natural, and man-made crises. Fortunately, charities worldwide are determined to improve the livelihoods of people in need. So we had to ask: What are the best charities for humanitarian aid?

The best charities for humanitarian aid are Direct Relief, Americares, and Life for Relief and Development. Other charities, such as World Vision and Convoy of Hope also aim to relief the suffering made by disasters.

Whether you want to give material support to communities needing urgent aid in times of crisis, ensure that they receive help to recover sustainably and build resilience, or get involved in the field when the next disaster strikes, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for humanitarian aid 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 Humanitarian Aid Have in Common

The charities on the list were chosen based on their impact, missions, transparency ratings, and achievements. They operate all over the world, from North America to East Asia, sharing the same humanitarian goal of providing immediate and critical aid to people in need.

Next to disaster response, most of the charities below also on preparedness and monitoring programs, to ensure that some crises are averted before taking their toll. Many establish long-term recovery processes in the affected communities, to help rebuild their livelihoods resiliently and sustainably through extensive educational, agricultural, and health programs. They aim to not only alleviate suffering but also improve the life quality of people around the world. 

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Humanitarian Aid in 2023

Below are our favorite charities for humanitarian aid:

  • Direct Relief
  • Americares
  • Life for Relief and Development
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • World Vision 
  • Convoy of Hope 
  • Feeding America
  • MAP International
  • Feed the Children 

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

Direct Relief: Deliver a World of Good

Direct Relief was founded in 1948 by European immigrant William Zimdin to deliver relief parcels to vulnerable people after the end of World War II. Today, the charity continues to provide aid in response to emergencies and refugee populations, specifically focusing on giving medical assistance after major crises.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Direct Relief has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Our mission was refined to serve disadvantaged populations living in medically under-served communities throughout the world.”

Direct Relief

What they do: Direct Relief improves the health and lives of people affected by poverty or crises worldwide, including earthquakes, hurricanes, and disease outbreaks. When disasters strike, the organization offers aid through their extended web of local partners. They work to ship high-priority medications, medical supplies, and equipment, or offer direct financial support. The charity also holds preparedness projects, through which they fund and equip health workers in disadvantaged communities. 

What they’ve achieved: Direct Relief operates in all 50 US states and more than 80 countries. For example, in 2021, they provided over $1,5 billion for humanitarian aid worldwide. And since 2010, they have assisted Africa with a total of $4 billion in medical treatments and over 500 million doses of medicine and emergency supplies. They have also directed over $1,7 billion in medical aid following natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, and tornadoes across the US.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Direct Relief on their website. You can also support them by becoming a volunteer, by by starting a fundraiser, or even while while playing videogames.

Americares: Health Is on the Way

Americares was founded in 1979 by Robert Macauley to rapidly and efficiently assist people impacted by crises. Today, they are one of the world’s leading nonprofit providers of aid in times of calamity, specializing in the distribution of medicine and medical essentials. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Charity Navigator gives Americares an overall rating of 97.87%, with a 100% score for finance and accountability. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal for Transparency. 

“We save lives and improve health for people affected by poverty or disaster so they can reach their full potential. The right to health is the heart of our mission and actions.”


What they do: Americares provides medical aid and disaster relief in health emergencies, such as disease outbreaks, civil war, poverty crises, or extreme weather. They respond to an average of 30 humanitarian and natural disasters worldwide each year. Additionally, they establish long-term recovery projects and bring disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable societies. They also implement clinical services that offer medicines, treatment, and lasting health assistance to underserved communities.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Americares has distributed more than $20 billion in humanitarian aid to 164 countries, including the US. They deliver over $1 billion in medicine and equipment to an average of 85 countries each year. For example, in 2021, they shipped enough medicine to fill 19.5 million prescriptions, along with 21.6 million medical supplies. They also established long-term programs in local health centers in over 20 countries

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Americares via their homepage. You can also choose to donate an old vehicle, fundraise, volunteer for them, or select them as your favorite Amazon Smile charity.

Life for Relief and Development: Where There Is Life, There Is Hope

Life for Relief and Development was founded in 1992 in California by a group of Arab and Muslim Americans to provide emergency aid to people regardless of race, color, religion and cultural background. Originally formed in response to the humanitarian crises that developed in Iraq as a result of the Gulf War, they have become the largest US-founded Muslim American humanitarian relief organization.   

Their impact and transparency ratings: Life for Relief and Development has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, and holds a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“Our mission is deeply rooted in the belief that saving lives should be a priority of all mankind.”

Life for Relief and Development

What they do: In times of calamity, Life for Relief and Development works quickly on the front lines to help hurting people through their emergency relief assistance program. They provide food, water, urgent medicine, hygiene necessities and temporary shelter. They also focuse on preparedness and recovery after a disaster, with long-term security and protection programs for fragile communities.

What they’ve achieved: To date, Life for Relief and Development has distributed over $520 million in humanitarian services and refugee assistance globally and has served more than 20 million people affected by natural disasters, pandemics, or war. They deliver aid in a network of over 46 countries. For example, in 2020, Life provided over $400,000 in emergency relief packages to those affected by flooding, earthquake, hurricanes and displaced families. During the same year, they distributed over $8 million worth of medical supplies and equipment for COVID-19 and other health crises spanning 17 countries.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Life for Relief and Development via their website, where you could also choose between a general donation or, for example, a a donation to their Emergency Relief Campaign. You can get involved with them by volunteering, applying for work or an internship, and fundraising for them.

Doctors Without Borders: A Pioneering Humanitarian Movement

Doctors Without Borders was founded in 1971 in France by a group of doctors and journalists in the wake of the war and famine in Nigeria. They aimed to establish an organization that focused on delivering emergency medical aid quickly, effectively, and impartially. Since then, the charity has become a game-changer humanitarian movement with a global reach.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Doctors Without Borders has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, and holds a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“We believe that all people should have access to high quality health care, regardless of gender, race, religion, creed, or political affiliation.”

Doctors Without Borders

What they do: Doctors Without Borders gives aid to an extensive range of emergencies, such as disease outbreaks and natural or man-made disasters, focusing on medical issues, needs, and supplies. They possess a tight network of volunteering and working doctors, nurses, and local aid workers worldwide, which allows them to be among the first on the scene, sometimes arriving in a matter of minutes. Their assistance consists of setting up temporary medical facilities and providing urgent medical treatment from pre-packaged supply kits. They also help the recovery process, improving water and sanitation services.

What they’ve achieved: Doctors Without Borders currently has 45,000 staff members providing over 10 million medical consultations in more than 70 countries every year. For example, in 2021, they provided over 12,5 million consultations, gave measles vaccines to more than 1,5 million people, and admitted 1 million patients in their hospitals and clinics around the world. One of their greatest achievements is winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, for establishing humanitarian work in multiple countries worldwide.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Doctors Without Borders via there homepage, where they also accept various other ways to contribute financially. You can also apply for work directly in the field, volunteer, or participate in an internship

World Vision: Hope, Joy and Justice for All Children 

World Vision was founded by Robert Pierce in the 1950s, with a committed desire to protect and care for children and those in need. Initially based in the state of Oregon, the organization focused on offering relief for emergencies in East Asia. Today, World Vision has become the largest Christian international NGO

Their impact and transparency ratings: World Vision has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, with a 100% score for accountability and transparency. They also hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“Even in some of the world’s most hostile environments, we have hope for recovery and are committed to protecting the vulnerable.”

World Vision

What they do: World Vision has a far-reaching approach to offering relief in times of crisis. Their preparedness strategy includes early warning – they monitor signals and indicators of threats to increase awareness – and “disaster risk reduction”, by understanding and reducing vulnerabilities ahead of time. They also prepare stocks and relief items, train local teams and rely on strong partnerships. When disaster strikes, they are able to respond quickly to support the communities with immediate food, shelter, and protection. Afterward, they remain on site for the recovery period and help improve access to resources of clean water, food, and education.

What they’ve achieved: World Vision has a network of 35,000 employees located in 100 countries worldwide. For example, in 2020, they supported 27 million people through 66 global emergency responses. In the same year, their impact increased, reaching over 30 million people throughout 72 humanitarian crises, including wildfires, floods, extreme weather, and earthquakes. And in 2021, they offered extensive support during the COVID-19 pandemic, assisting nearly 76 million people.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to World Vision on their website, where you can also choose which humanitarian crises you specifically want to support. You can also support the charity by sponsoring a child, working for them, or participating in one of their virtual internships.  

Convoy of Hope: Hope In Every Storm

Convoy of Hope was founded in 1994 by Hal Donaldson after meeting with Mother Teresa and other two missionaries, with the intent to feed the hungry and bring aid to communities that need it most. Today, in partnership with churches, businesses, and civic organizations, Convoy offers strategic help and hope to vulnerable people around the world. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Charity Navigator gives Convoy of Hope a 4-star rating, with a 100% score for transparency and accountability. They also hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“As a humanitarian, faith-based organization, our goal is to serve people who are impoverished, hungry, and hurting.”

Convoy of Hope

What they do: Convoy of Hope has an extensive strategy of action for humanitarian relief. They focus on preparedness and monitorization, by training, equipping, and keeping contact with local partners and volunteers worldwide. In times of emergency, the charity provides immediate help by distributing relief supplies like food, clean water, and hygiene kits to said partners in impacted communities. Lastly, they continue a long-term recovery process to help communities return to self-sustainability after a disaster, from cleanup and debris removal to agricultural training.

What they’ve achieved: Convoy of Hope has impacted disadvantaged communities in times of crisis, with more than 550 disaster responses to date and, for example, 64 in 2021, both in the US and internationally. In the same year, they have distributed over 21 million meals and served over 2 million people in need. Their current network extends to more than 127 countries in which they deliver humanitarian aid in cases of extreme weather, earthquakes, floods or droughts, or similar tragedies.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Convoy of Hope, where you can also choose to donate to specific disaster survivors. You can also support them by making customized kits that will be delivered to disaster-struck areas, or even deliver them yourself by becoming a volunteer.

Feeding America: No One Can Thrive on an Empty Stomach

Feeding America was founded in the late 1960s by John van Hengel, with the core aim to serve people facing hunger. He established “food banks” that stored food which impoverished people could pick up later, rather than being wasted. Today, they are the largest American hunger-relief organization, with a powerful and efficient network of food banks across the country.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Feeding America has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, with a 100% score for finances, impact, and results. They also hold a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“Our mission is to advance change in America by ensuring equitable access to nutritious food for all.”

Feeding America

What they do: Feeding America has a three-step process for disaster response and relief. First, they focus on preparedness by developing collaborative disaster plans and storing emergency provisions in food banks. Second, during a crisis, they use their nationwide network to deliver emergency food, water, and supplies to the impacted areas. Third, they continue to help and serve the affected communities with further equipment, staff, and supplies for long-term disaster recovery.

What they’ve achieved: Feeding America has a current network of 200 food banks worth 10 million square feet of warehouse space and has served one in seven Americans through a total delivery of over 6 billion meals. For example, in 2021, they offered aid to frigid winter storms, tornado outbreaks, and hurricanes across the US. In total, they have deployed over 200 truckloads worth 7,2 million pounds of emergency food boxes, water, personal care supplies, and other relief items to the impacted communities.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Feeding America through their website. You can also take action by becoming a volunteer or starting a fundraiser

MAP International: Medicine For The World

MAP International was founded in 1954 in Chicago by Ray Knighton, aiming to fulfill its Christian desire to provide life-changing medicines and health supplies for the world’s poorest, most vulnerable people. Since then, the organization has extended its operations globally, offering humanitarian relief and millions of critically needed medicines to disaster-stricken communities.

Their impact and transparency ratings: MAP International has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, with a perfect 100% score for financial performance, transparency, and accountability. GuideStar gives them the Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

“We provide medicines and health supplies to those in need so they can experience life to its fullest.”

MAP International

What they do: MAP International delivers lifesaving medicines and urgently needed health supplies to their on-the-ground partners to aid the survivors. They also assist with clothing, water filters, and other emergency equipment, adapting their relief responses to the unique needs of communities. They have designed a Disaster Health Kit Program and a preparedness scheme, for a broader approach to humanitarian challenges. They tackle a multitude of crises, such as war zones, extreme weather, earthquakes, pandemics, and refugee populations. 

What they’ve achieved: MAP International has a record of providing over $118 in donated medicines to people in need for every dollar receive. For example, in 2021, they provided nearly $622 million in medicines and health supplies and invested over $13 million in disaster relief equipment. During the same year, they responded to 12 humanitarian crises in 9 countries and handed over 46,000 Disaster Health Kits. And in 2020, they aided the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by distributing millions of masks, medicines, gloves, and other supplies to endangered communities in 8 countries.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to MAP International on their website, where you could also financially cobute for medicinal gifts that will directly serve the people in need. You can also contribute via individual fundraising or corporate giving opportunities, such as medicine donation and Packing Events.

Feed the Children: Creating a World Where No Child Goes to Bed Hungry

Feed the Children was founded in 1979 by Larry Jones to address hunger crises in the US and internationally. Today, the charity delivers food, education services, and vital responses in times of calamity to the most vulnerable communities worldwide. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Feed the Children has a 4-star rating on Charity Navigator, with 97% for accountability and transparency. They also hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Our mission is to provide hope and resources for those without life’s essentials.”

Feed the Children

What they do: Feed the Children delivers donations of food and other resources to crisis-affected communities. They distribute the supplies by collaborating with local community partners in hard-hit areas. They offer vital response services in emergencies and they provide Kid’s Disaster Packs to ensure that children have the basic resources to cope during the relief and recovery process. In addition, they assist with educational materials to improve livelihoods and promote recovery. 

What they’ve achieved: Feed the Children runs programs across the US and in 8 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, to offer vital aid during natural disasters. For exampole, throughout 2021 and 2022, they distributed over 850,000 pounds of alleviation supplies including food, bottled water, and urgent medical supplies; in total, they made 40 shipments of relief to over 50 communities.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Feed Children on their homepage. You can also get involved by sponsoring an event, starting a fundraiser, becoming a volunteer, or sponsoring a child.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for humanitarian aid. 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. Familiarise 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 a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial 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 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 humanitarian aid – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

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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:


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Diana Stancu

Diana loves to research and write about topics that bring awareness to communities in need. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Sciences and considers herself a lifelong learner who strives to increase her knowledge and expertise. Outside of work, she enjoys writing fiction, creating cooking recipes, studying philosophy, and taking sunset photos.

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