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Officials ordered more than 6.5 million Floridians to evacuate, and more than 70,000 took refuge in more than 385 shelters. The storm devastated many islands in the Caribbean – like St. Martin and St. Barts – and they now face severe food and water shortages. At least 34 Irma-related deaths have been reported.
This all happened less than a week after Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas Gulf Coast.
Charities – both big and small – will step in. But not all charities are created equal.
Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that has independently rated over 8,000 charities, compiled a list of some of the best organizations to donate to in the wake of Irma. Its team considers several factors when giving a charity a score out of 100. These include program expenses (e.g. how much of the donated money goes straight to victims) and transparency (e.g. audited financials prepared by an independent accountant).
The charities that Charity Navigator recommends for Irma, along with their scores out of 100, are below.
Note: Right now, it is not clear whether all these organizations will spend 100% of donations received on Hurricane Irma relief and associated expenses. But in past large-scale disasters, high percentages of donations have directly gone to victims. For Harvey charities, click here.
Local Floridian organizations: Volunteer Florida, Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville, Boca Helping Hands, Heart of Florida United Way, Neighborhood Health Clinic, All Faiths Food Bank, Dan Marino Foundation, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, and the Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade.
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
These local charities have all received scores between 90 and 100, and work in the most heavily affected areas of Florida.
Sara Nason, a Charity Navigator spokesperson, told Business Insider that choosing between donations to a local or national organization is a matter of preference. The main thing to look for is that the charity is an established and highly-rated organization.
“Local organizations will continue to work in the community long after the disaster has happened, as they have an established presence in the community. National and international organizations deal with disasters at a large scale, with an established infrastructure and coordinated teams that specifically hold a skill-set for responding to crises,” she said in an email.
Local Caribbean organizations: Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross, Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico, Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, St. John Community Foundation, BVI Recovery Fund, Anguilla Beaches, and the Netherlands Red Cross.
- St. John Community Foundation
These local charities work in the most heavily affected areas of the Caribbean.
Charity Navigator does not rate local organizations based outside the US, but these are reputable and have existed for many years.
Islamic Relief USA — 92.92
- Islamic Relief USA
Islamic Relief USA aims to alleviate suffering, hunger, illiteracy, and diseases worldwide. Launched in California in 1993, the nonprofit works on a variety of projects, including education and training, water and sanitation, income generation, orphan support, health and nutrition, and emergency relief.
SBP — 93.66
- St. Bernard Project
Founded in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina, SBP (also known as St. Bernard Project) works out of a parish near New Orleans. After disasters, the organization rebuilds homes, advocates for recovery strategies, and advises policy makers, homeowners, and business owners about resilience.
Brother’s Brother Foundation — 94.42
- Brother’s Brother Foundation
Brother’s Brother Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based international charity, has provided over $4 billion of medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, textbooks, food, seeds, and other humanitarian supplies to people around the world in 149 countries since 1958.
Samaritan’s Purse — 96.32
- Samaritan’s Purse
Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational, Christian organization that provides spiritual and physical aid to people affected by disaster and poverty around the world. It focuses on helping victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine.
GlobalGiving — 96.46
Founded in 2003, GlobalGiving is a funding platform that helps people find causes they care about. Users select projects they want to support, make a contribution, and get regular progress updates.
Convoy of Hope — 96.46
- Convoy of Hope
Convoy of Hope is a faith-based nonprofit that works to fight hunger around the world. Founded in 1994, the Springfield, Missouri-based charity also responds to disasters.
Heart to Heart International — 96.46
- Heart to Heart International
Heart to Heart International is a humanitarian organization that aids millions of people in more than 60 countries, including the US, every year. The Kansas-based nonprofit enlists volunteers and works with local organizations to make a high impact on the communities it serves.
DonorsChoose.org — 96.66
Founded in 2000, DonorsChoose.org allows users to fund specific project requests from teachers in US public schools. Donors choose and give money to a project that they’re passionate about, and then they hear back from the classroom with photos and updates.
The organization has prepared a special fund for Harvey victims.
Matthew 25: Ministries — 97.17
- Matthew 25 Ministries
Matthew 25: Ministries is an international humanitarian aid and disaster relief organization that helps the poor locally, nationally and internationally, regardless of race, creed, or political ideology.
By collecting products from major corporations, manufacturers, hospitals, and individuals, the nonprofit provides basic necessities, skill development, and disaster relief. It was founded in 1991.
All Hands Volunteers — 96.66
- All Hands Volunteers
All Hands Volunteers works to address the long-term needs of communities affected by disasters. Over the last 12 years, the organization has enlisted over 39,000 volunteers who helped 500,000 people worldwide.
Medical Teams International — 96.70
- Medical Teams International
Medical Teams International is a Christian global health organization based in Portland, Oregon. It sends teams of volunteer health professionals to carry out disaster relief, long-term development and community health programs with local partners, ships millions in humanitarian aid to countries around the world, and provides mobile dental care to those in need in the US.
Americares — 97.23
Since its founding in 1979, Americares has provided more than $13 billion in aid to 164 countries, including the United States. It is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, and specializes in fighting ongoing health crises.
Direct Relief — 100
- Direct Relief
Direct Relief is California’s largest international humanitarian nonprofit organization. It provides medical assistance to help people affected by poverty and disaster in the US and around the world.