How to help refugees?
September 6, 2015 11:15 AM   Subscribe

I've been reading a lot about the refugee crisis and also about unintended consequences of international aid (dollars lost to corruption, mosquito nets used for fishing and thus causing harm to the environment). I want to help but short of actually moving to Europe, renting an apartment and inviting a family to stay there, how can I be certain that my efforts are actually helping? I'm open to both financial and non-financial forms of assistance.
posted by bunderful to Work & Money (8 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
To be clear: I've already read about more charities than I can possibly give to, so I'm not looking for names of more charities. More: how do I break out of the analysis paralysis and take an action that I can be reasonably certain will be effective.
posted by bunderful at 11:20 AM on September 6, 2015


The UK paper the Guardian answers this very question here.
posted by stevedawg at 12:41 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


how can I be certain that my efforts are actually helping?

To be clear: I've already read about more charities than I can possibly give to

I'm not sure what you're asking for here, buddy. The closest you, John or Jane Q. Westerner, will ever get to surety is donating to one of the many internationally accredited, experienced charities working on this issue like International Red Cross, UNHCR, MSF or Save The Children to name but a few. There is no platonic ideal that your money is 'really' helping.

I acknowledge that handing over small bundles of cash does not feel very "active", or that it's really "making a difference", but having worked in this sector, and studied it, I promise you, that - with the experiences and resources you have to bear - giving cash to these organisations is the biggest impact you can have.

Also, give your MP a call/email and let them know you would support your country taking in more Syrian refugees.

But giving money is the most effective charity you can give, it really truly is. I know a lot of people struggle with feelings of impotence about this but a) a day's worth of your wages is way more helpful to aid orgs than a day's worth of your work; b) charities with decades of experience are definitely not a con; and c) they are also not particularly inefficient, and in fact one of the most efficient and experienced ways of distributing non-development, emergency aid like this.
posted by smoke at 3:28 PM on September 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


To be clear: I've already read about more charities than I can possibly give to

I'm not sure what you're asking for here, buddy.


I guess I wasn't as clear as I hoped - I was trying to avoid having people just drop in the names of charities without additional information.

Your assurance that giving money is actually effective was helpful, and I made a donation to MSF. Also signed a petition to push for accepting more refugees in my country.
posted by bunderful at 4:13 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have been helping to run a small humanitarian nonprofit for over a decade and I absolutely agree with what smoke has written. It's frustrating how scandals make the news but the thousands of charities doing amazing and effective work don't get nearly as much press. "Charities doing good things help people" doesn't sell newspapers, I guess.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:52 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


The EU has cut its Search & Rescue budget by 1/3rd in the past two years. If you are interested in putting your donation towards direct action for refugees at the moment they are in greatest peril, MOAS is a very large, privately funded floating rescue centre that literally pulls people from the Mediterranean, using drones to locate them. It costs €400,000 per month to run and has saved more than 11,000 people.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:47 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Since you're in the U.S. where many people don't even know this is happening, posting about it on Social Media, and specifically mentioning this there to presidential candidates, will have a meaningful effect.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:51 AM on September 7, 2015


I beg to differ about posting about it on Social Media. It's unlikely that your social circle is unaware of the Syrian crisis. It has been playing on the evening news and in all major US newspapers for the past two weeks. Save your time and use it on Potomac's other suggestion which is to write to political candidates. For bang for the buck, I'd go with the charities listed above, MOAS, MSF, Red Cross.
posted by storybored at 7:15 PM on September 7, 2015


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