Phil for Humanity Phil for Humanity
A Guide for the Survival of Humankind and Helping the World, Society, and Yourself.

Ten Top Humanitarian Charities

Our world is clearly in crisis. Everywhere we look--in the media, on the streets, in our own homes--we see evidence of poverty, hunger, environmental disaster, war, and disease. Most of us want to do something to help, but with so many charities and humanitarian organizations begging for our attention, time, and money, it can be difficult to know where our efforts and contributions are best spent. The following is a list of ten highly-rated humanitarian charities that not only do important work and do it well but also use their resources effectively.

MedShare International is the perfect two-for-one charity. By recycling surplus medical supplies and equipment from hospitals and clinics in the United States and redistributing them to healthcare facilities in developing nations, MedShare not only helps meet the urgent medical needs of underserved, impoverished communities, but also helps the environment by keeping still useful durable goods out of our landfills. Charity Navigator, which ranks charities according to their efficient use of financial resources, lists MedShare International as one of its highest-rated charitable organizations. As a noteworthy humanitarian charity that receives no government funding and depends entirely on private contribution, MedShare particularly needs, and deserves, the public's support.

The International Children's Fund (ICF) serves the needs of children in some of the poorest nations in Africa by bringing donations of funds, food, clothing, medicine, and other goods directly to the communities where they live. ICF's efforts have supported the drilling of wells, the building of schools, and the resettlement of orphans in refugee camps. Projects are ongoing in Ghana, Liberia, Sudan, Kenya, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and several other African countries. Only two percent of the money ICF receives goes to administrative expenses, and at $28,000, the annual salary of ICF's CEO is well below the average of $150,000 for non-profit charitable organizations.

FINCA stands for "Foundation for International Community Assistance." Founded in 1984, FINCA is one of the pioneers of the microfinance movement, providing loans and other financial services to low-income entrepreneurs in some of the world's poorest communities. Many of FINCA's clients are women and refugees, whose forays into the business world have helped raise not only their own standard of living but that of their surrounding social network. FINCA has provided more than 725,000 individuals on four continents with the keys to greater prosperity and a more secure future through its Village Banking Campaign.

The Nature Conservancy works world-wide to protect the environment and the lives dependent on it and to preserve ecologically vital resources and habitats. Although the Nature Conservancy encourages political engagement and advocacy on behalf of environmentally friendly causes, it seeks to accomplish its goals by proposing practical solutions that appeal to all sides of an environmental dispute rather than pursuing political confrontation or inflammatory rhetoric. The Nature Conservancy also takes a science-based approach to environmental issues; the organizations employs a staff of over 700 scientists and scientific technicians. Special focus areas include marine and fresh water conservation, proposing solutions for problems caused by climate change, repairing ecosystems damaged by invasive species, and preserving coral reefs and rainforests.

Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization, provides medical aid to vulnerable populations in developing countries threatened by armed conflict, natural disaster, epidemics, and malnutrition and other health problems induced by impoverished living conditions. The organization prides itself on its independence from all affiliations, whether they be political or religious and its policy of impartiality and non-discrimination in its treatment of the injured, diseased, and needy. Medical teams from Doctors Without Borders go to regions of the world where no one else will go and remain there when everyone else has left. They have brought attention to episodes of violence and atrocity overlooked by the mainstream media and have served the medical needs of populations caught in the crucible of the worst armed conflicts of the past century, including the conflicts in Bosnia, Darfur, Somalia, Rwanda, Chechnya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The mission of Habitat for Humanity is to fight poverty and homelessness. Armed with the credo that everyone needs and deserves a safe and affordable living space, Habitat for Humanity works to revitalize neighborhoods, address the problem of unsanitary, overcrowded, and inadequate shelters in poor communities worldwide, and alleviate housing crises caused by devastating natural disasters and armed conflicts. When hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, and floods displace entire communities and leave countless families homeless, Habitat for Humanity is on hand to rebuild.

There are nearly 42 million refugees and displaced persons in the world today. Refugees International works to meet their needs and to bring stability to areas threatened refugee crises. Refugees International also advocates on behalf of refugees, urging political leaders, governmental bodies, and NGOs to take action when populations are forced from their homes due to armed conflict and political instability.

Books for Africa has a single focus and simple mission: ending "book famine" in Africa. The organization collects donations of books and then ships and distributes them to children in Africa. Children in poor communities in 45 African nations have been the beneficiaries of Books for Africa's efforts which have brought more than 20 million books to schools and libraries across the continent.

Founded by former President Jimmy Carter, The Carter Center is devoted to human rights advocacy across the globe. Dedicated to instilling and preserving peace, representatives of The Carter Center have served as election observers and mediators in political conflicts. The Carter Center has also been at the forefront of efforts to battle intractable diseases and parasites that plague vulnerable and impoverished populations in the developing world, including malaria, trachoma, and Guinea worm. President Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 largely on the strength of his efforts with The Carter Center.

Pathfinder International works throughout the developing world to improve women's reproductive health. Pathfinder's philosophy is based on the conviction that increased control over one's reproductive life leads to individual strength and confidence as well as to healthier families and more stable communities. Some of Pathfinder's many ambitious projects include community-based family planning programs in Tanzania, Uganda, and Papua New Guinea; an initiative to address the problem of post-partum hemorrhage in India and Nigeria; a program to increase awareness, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of obstetric fistula in Ghana; and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs in India, Mozambique, Kenya, and Brazil.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. There are many other fine and effective charities out there that do important work and whose efforts are worth notice, commendation, and support. However, these organizations are a sampling of the very best humanitarian organizations at work in our troubled world today. If you give you time, money, and assistance to any one of these ten, you can be sure that your efforts will, in at least a small way, help make our planet a better place to live.

by Christine Howell
on 10/25/2009

Christine Howell is a writer who regularly writes about Online Degrees and college related topics for Online College Guru, an online college directory and comparison website.

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