America at War: How to Help with Humanitarian Crises in Iraq

As the war in Iraq winds down, the focus now shifts from the fighting to helping the people of Iraq. Americans are looking for ways to assist Iraqi families in need. But before you give to any charity, you need to be certain that it is legitimate. Unfortunately, in times like these, many questionable charities use names similar to those of well-established charities, but send less than 25 cents of every dollar to help Iraqi families, using the rest for salaries, fund raising, and other administrative costs. A good charity will spend at least 75 cents of every dollar raised on Iraqi families, providing food and medical help, and no more than 25 cents per dollar for administrative costs.

Also, with humanitarian crises like the situation in Iraq, it is best to send only money, and not supplies. Charities can buy what is needed most, such as food and medicine. According to the American Institute of Philanthropy website, during the Bosnian War from 1992-1996, 37.5 million pounds of unneeded medicines were donated. Recently, Americans have been told not to send any more food and supplies to Iraq, as charities have been deluged with unsolicited donations.

If you do decide to give money to a charity, pay by check. This gives you a record of your donation, it is less easily lost or stolen, and you may be able to deduct the contribution from your taxable income.

The American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) recently rated the top charities that provide aid in humanitarian crises, such as the current situation in Iraq. Many of these charities, such as American Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, American Refugee Committee, and Save the Children, are well known. To locate other worthwhile charities, go to the AIP website at http://charitywatch.org/hottopics/iraqaid.html.

For more information on charitable giving, check out the publication, “Making Your Holiday Giving Go Further,” at the following website: http://www.ca.uky.edu/fcs/FACTSHTS/FAM-RHF-124.pdf.