9 Best Charities for Helping Refugees (Complete 2022 List)

9 Best Charities for Helping Refugees (Complete 2022 List)

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Olivia Lopez

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Everyone deserves the right to adequate health care, education, and shelter. However, many refugees don’t have access to such services, especially when displaced, relocating, or resettling. And with so many charities supporting refugees, we had to ask: What are the best charities for helping refugees?

The best charities for helping refugees are the International Rescue Committee, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and Doctors Without Borders. These charities advocate for refugee protection, safety, and rights. They also deliver emergency relief and support services to refugees in need.

Whether you want to donate to help refugees, volunteer with refugees in your community, or advocate for refugee rights, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for helping refugees 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 Refugees Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, commitment to helping refugees,  and their transparency ratings. These charities provide comprehensive support services to refugees fleeing violence, persecution, or armed conflict. They also strive to make refugees feel safer, and more dignified.

These charities assist refugees from all backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or religious beliefs. They also offer extensive support to vulnerable refugee communities, such as children, women, and LGBTQ+ people. And they all share the same goal of helping refugees.

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Helping Refugees

Below are our favorite charities for helping refugees:

  • International Rescue Committee
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • Save the Children
  • RefugePoint
  • International Refugee Assistance Project
  • Alight
  • Jesuit Refugee Service
  • Organization for Refuge, Asylum, & Migration

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

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 refugees from diverse backgrounds, and 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 9,300 refugees in Greece, after a fire destroyed their 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. 

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 ensure they had reliable counsel and assistance with their immigration 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 refugees and asylum-seekers 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 helped more than 5,000 refugees resettle in the US, and expanded across more than 15 states. For example, in 2019, they resettled more than 3,802 refugees. In the same year, they assisted 94 unaccompanied refugee minors, and 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 refugees’ rights to the government.

Doctors Without Borders: Distributing Medical Resources and Assistance to Refugees

Doctors Without Borders (or Médecins Sans Frontières) was founded in 1971 by a group of doctors, nurses, and humanitarians, to provide medical aid to vulnerable communities affected by natural disasters and armed conflict. In 1975, they carried out their first mission to assist Cambodian refugees in need of medical assistance. Today, they have offices around the world in more than 20 countries, including the US, Switzerland, and Australia.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Doctors Without Borders has a 4-star rating and an Accountability and Transparency score of 97 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2020, nearly 85% of their income was spent on their programs and services.   

To provide medical care to refugees and displaced people all over the world.

Doctors Without Borders

What they do: Doctors Without Borders delivers critical, medical support to refugees in the most severe humanitarian crises. They also carry out groundbreaking research, mobilize resources, and report on various humanitarian issues witnessed during their projects. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, Doctors Without Borders has reached hundreds of thousands of refugees with their medical support services. For example, by 2019, they had provided more than 1,000,000 patient consultations to Rohingya refugees. They have also offered more than 42,000 medical consultations to people in Mexico, including refugees. Furthermore, they have provided search-and-rescue assistance to over 80,000 refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to Doctors Without Borders by donating directly through their website. You can also show your support by attending one of their events, volunteering with them, or fundraising on their behalf.

Save the Children: Providing Life-Saving Services To Refugee Children

Save the Children was founded in 1919 by Eglantyne Jebb, to deliver essential services to children in need. Jebb also went on to draft the Declaration of the Rights of a Child, to advocate for global children’s rights. Since then, Save the Children has expanded worldwide and works to protect children in all capacities. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Save the Children has a 4-star rating and an Accountability and Transparency score of 97 out of 100, both from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2020, nearly 85% of their income was spent on their programs. 

To help millions of refugee children, regardless of ethnicity, religion or any other factor.

Save the Children

What they do: Save the Children aims to safeguard children through educational, health, and security programs. They assist children in humanitarian crises, as well as those deprived of basic needs, such as food, shelter, or safety. They also advocate for public policies that protect children’s rights, and empower children to reach their potential.

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, Save the Children has assisted 197 million children in more than 100 countries. For example, in 2020, they reached over 85,000 children in Lebanon, including refugees, with their social services. In the same year, they provided health, education, and aid to over 550,000 children in Uganda, including South Sudanese refugees. They also helped another 853,000 children in Tanzania, including refugees from Burundi.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to Save the Children by donating through their website. In addition, you can start a fundraiser in your community, attend some of their events, or volunteer to support children’s rights. They also have an online shop, where you can purchase branded merchandise to support their cause. Finally, you can offer to sponsor a child, so your donations directly support a child’s development.

RefugePoint: Supporting Refugees In Urgent Need

RefugePoint was founded in 2005 by Sasha Chanoff and Dr. John Wagacha Burton to provide humanitarian assistance to all refugees in humanitarian crises. After recognizing that many refugees in marginalized groups or urban areas were overlooked, the founders were determined to create an organization that could ensure support and assistance reached those communities. Today, RefugePoint has offices in the US, Kenya, and Switzerland

Their impact and transparency ratings: RefugePoint has 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, they spent approximately 84% of their income on their refugee programs and services. 

To advance lasting solutions for at-risk refugees and support the humanitarian community to do the same.

RefugePoint

What they do: RefugePoint aims to create long-term solutions for refugees in need. They achieve this by addressing social and economic issues that hinder refugees from accessing necessary services and care, such as shelter and medical assistance. They also advocate for more inclusion of refugee communities in their host countries.  

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, RefugePoint has reached more than 100,000 refugees across 46 countries with their support services. For example, in 2020, they provided medical assistance to more than 1,198 people, and food assistance to another 2,098 people. In the same year, they also ensured the safe resettlement of more than 6,000 refugees. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to RefugePoint by donating through their website. You can also donate by check, wire transfer, or even with cryptocurrency.

International Refugee Assistance Project: Delivering Legal Aid to Refugees 

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) was founded in 2008 by Rebecca Heller, Jon Finer, Mike Breen, Steve Poellot, and Kate Brubacher, to provide legal aid to refugees. Heller, a law student at the time, was inspired to create a student-led organization that could offer legal assistance to refugees in need. Today, IRAP has chapters at law schools across the US, and a headquarters based in New York City.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The International Refugee Assistance Project has a Finance and Accountability score of 100 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2020, they spent nearly 86% of their income on their programs and services. 

To develop and enforce a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons.

International Refugee Assistance Project

What they do: The International Refugee Assistance Project enlists the support of law students in the US to deliver pro bono legal services to refugees and displaced persons around the world. They also advocate for policy changes that are more inclusive of refugees, while challenging discriminatory laws that hinder the rights of refugees.  

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, IRAP has provided legal aid to more than 30,000 people from over 70 countries. They have reached more than 14,000 people with their online services, offering refugee resettlement information and support. They also helped reunite more than 160 refugee children with their families. And in 2020, they won a case that expedited application processing for more than 300 refugees. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to IRAP by donating through their website. You can also show your support by attending one of their events, fundraising on their behalf, or by subscribing to their newsletter.

Alight: Uplifting Refugees and Displaced Persons

Alight was founded in 1978 as the American Refugee Committee, by Neal Ball, to assist refugees that had been displaced or were resettling. Their first international mission provided humanitarian relief to refugees and displaced persons along the Thai-Cambodian border. Since then, they’ve increased their reach and offered aid to refugees worldwide, including those in Pakistan and Jordan. And in 2019, they officially changed their name from the American Refugee Committee to Alight, to better honor the people they served. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Alight holds a 4-star rating and an Accountability and Transparency score of 100 out of 100, both from Charity Navigator. They also have a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.  

To help refugees find safety and move forward.”

Alight

What they do: Alight strives to ensure that refugees and displaced people are protected, empowered, and welcomed in their communities. They do this through tailored health and sanitation programs, and by offering educational services. They also provide emergency relief, safe and secure shelter to vulnerable people, and strengthen the capacity of refugee camps and communities.  

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Alight has expanded to serve more than 3,000,000 people across more than 20 countries, including refugees in Uganda, Rwanda, and Thailand. They have provided essential care, such as sanitation and health services, to over 200,000 migrants in Sudan, including refugees. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to Alight by donating through their website. They also welcome charitable donations through employer matching or stocks. They have a great online shop where you can purchase branded merchandise to show your support for refugees. 

Jesuit Refugee Service: Protecting Vulnerable and Marginalized Refugees

Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) was founded in 1980 by Father Pedro Arrupe to aid refugee communities with social and health care services. Father Arrupe enlisted the support of over 25,000 Jesuits leaders to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Vietnam, which saw thousands of refugees fleeing on boats. Since then, they have also expanded to assist refugees fleeing conflict in Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Today, JRS is headquartered in Washington, DC.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Jesuit Refugee Service holds a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

To accompany, serve, and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.

Jesuit Refugee Service

What they do: Jesuit Refugee Service advocates for the rights and protection of refugees, while also delivering comprehensive support services to affected communities. They uplift and empower refugees through education, mental health, and medical assistance programs. They also advocate for policies that embrace refugees and diminish discrimination against refugee communities. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Jesuit Refugee Service has served more than 677,000 people across 56 countries, including refugees in Chad, Colombia, and Bangladesh. For example, in 2020, they reached more than 100,000 refugees with their mental health services and programs. In the same year, they also reached 562,603 refugee women and girls needing support. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to JRS by sending a donation through their website. You can also show your support by taking action through one of their advocacy initiatives, which include protecting refugee education, and the US refugee resettlement program. 

Organization for Refuge, Asylum, & Migration: Defending LGBTQ+ Refugees

The Organization for Refuge, Asylum, & Migration (ORAM) was founded in 2008 to protect LGBTQ+ refugees, and people at risk of persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. They became one of the first internationally-recognized NGOs to support LGBTQ+ refugees. Since then, they have evolved to provide a range of social and legal support services to LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum-seekers in Greece, Kenya, and Mexico. And today, they have offices in the US and Germany.

Their impact and transparency ratings: ORAM 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 champion the rights of LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees on the global stage”

Organization for Refuge, Asylum, & Migration

What they do: The Organization for Refuge, Asylum, & Migration assists LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum-seekers with capacity-building services, and financial and legal support. They also distribute health and care services to vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers, such as those living with HIV, or without access to sanitary facilities

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, ORAM has provided support and services to hundreds of refugees in need. For example, in 2020, they reached more than 150 LGBT+ refugees with their livelihood support program, and over 300 with emergency food services. In the same year, they also gave rent assistance to another 100 LGBTQ+ refugees. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to ORAM by donating through their website. You can also show your support by checking out their events, or by becoming a legal sponsor for an asylum-seeker.  

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for helping refugees. 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 refugees – 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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