As a Christian, you know that Christ is alive and can be served directly by serving those in the greatest need. “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in” (Matthew 25:35). While you want to help those in need, it can be confusing and somewhat overwhelming to choose which charity will do the most good. There is also that little voice inside that wonders if your donations and gifts will go where you intend for them to go. While a few bad apples can certainly spoil the bunch, there are plenty of legitimate charities out there that are changing lives and touching hearts with your generous donations.
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done” (Proverbs 19:17).
The Christian-based charities listed here were chosen based on several key criteria areas and verified by top charity watchdog groups, such as Charity Navigator, GuideStar, and Ministry Watch. All ten charities were evaluated for being transparent in their financial reporting, accountable for the distribution of all donations received, having recently and regularly filed IRS 990 tax forms, maintaining a low percentage of operating costs, and demonstrating a high percentage of donations going directly to the needy. Many of these charities were also ranked highly on the Forbes and Christian Science Monitor’s list of top charities.
These verification measures should assure you that you can donate money and goods to any of these charities with confidence. They are legitimate charities providing services to legitimate causes in the areas of most need. While you can always donate cash to each of these Christian-based charities, each one also hosts a variety of giving programs that will allow you the opportunity to do good works as a Samaritan (Luke 10:25) in service and faith.
Founded in 1970 by Bob Pierce, this evangelist and journalist traveled throughout Asia in the years following WWII. During a trip to China, he met a group of brave women who lived among the lepers and orphans in order to help them and share the love of Jesus Christ through selfless service. Pierce was so moved by these women that he dedicated his life to finding other Christians who were willing to care for the poor and suffering around the world. After seeing children suffering on the island of Kojedo, Korea, he created Samaritan’s Purse to meet emergency needs through evangelical missions. After his death in 1978, Franklin Graham took the reins and expanded the ministry for the next 30 years to help those suffering from earthquakes, hurricanes, famine, and wars, following the Biblical example of being the Good Samaritan. Some of the ways you can help:
* Volunteer your time to put together Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts during National Collection Week. Centers are located around the country and open from September-November.
* Collect items and pack your own shoebox gifts all year long to help even more children at Christmas. Imagine the smiles and feelings of hope you will create with a shoebox filled with everything a needy child deserves, including toys, school supplies, crafts, and hygiene items.
* Donate to The Greatest Journey program and help children learn to follow Jesus faithfully. One of the largest discipleship programs in the world, children who receive shoe box gifts are also given the opportunity to attend a 12-lesson Bible study course. Your $6 donation pays for the materials for 12 children to learn about God’s Word.
In 1952, the Rev. Everett Swanson went to South Korea to minister to the American troops who were fighting in the Korean War. While, in Seoul, he witnessed hundreds of war orphans living and dying in the streets, abandoned by society, he vowed to find a way to help them. Starting with a single orphanage, he created a program that provided food, clothing, medical care, shelter, and a Bible-based education to these unwanted children. Within two years, the mission grew into a sponsorship program where American individuals, groups, and churches could care for these children with small monthly donations. Today, with the support of 14 sponsor countries around the world, nearly 2 million babies, children, and young adults are released from spiritual, economic, social, and physical poverty through Compassion International’s Christ-centered, child-focused, church-based programs. Some of the ways you can help:
* Host a Compassion Sunday to find sponsors for waiting for children by making a brief presentation, showing a short video, and setting up a sponsorship table at your church.
* Rescue a new mother and baby living in poverty by sponsoring them through a small monthly donation.
* Sponsor a child in a developing country through a monthly donation to provide nutritious food, medical care, hygiene training, educational assistance, disaster relief, and an opportunity to be mentored in the church and to hear Jesus’ message of love and hope.
At the end of WWII, approximately one-fifth of the world’s Lutherans were homeless. Lutheran churches in the U.S. mobilized to send aid to their Christian brothers and sisters in Germany and Scandinavia. Soon, the cry of other hungry refugees throughout Europe was heard, and Lutheran World Relief (LWR) answered the call by helping anyone in need, regardless of faith. Today, a network of 100 local partners in 35 countries around the world work to provide relief supplies and other services for lasting, long-term solutions to poverty in their communities. LWR provides emergency food, supplies, and cash to disaster-hit areas. They help small-scale farmers increase their incomes by optimizing opportunities for growth through harvest education, improved technologies, and access to reliable credit. LWR’s mission is to help the poor and suffering at every stage of need. Some of the ways you can help:
* Put together a School Kit to send to needy children who are unable to afford the supplies needed to attend school. LWR provides a specific list of the items to include, where to buy the backpacks, and a pattern to sew your own special backpacks if you choose.
* Host a quilt-making party to create new Mission Quilts for needy adults and children. Quilts provide warmth and can also be used as a baby carrier, sunshade, shawl, and a reminder that someone halfway around the world cared enough to make them something special.
* Host an LWR Sunday at your congregation and spread the word of how your community can provide nutritious food and safe water to those in need with the LWR Sunday Kit. You can request free resources, such as a hunger/water video, PowerPoint presentation, brochures, bulletin inserts, and pew envelopes for donations.
Operation Blessing was founded in 1978 by Pat Robertson as a way to help people in need receive the clothing, appliances, vehicles, and other items that were donated by the viewers of The 700 Club. As the need grew, the organization expanded to include a fleet of refrigerated tractor-trailer trucks to distribute disaster supplies across the U.S., and an L-1011 airplane named the Flying Hospital that was used to fly medical missions to other countries in need. Today, faith-based programs have been developed to provide disaster relief, medical aid, hunger relief, clean water, and orphan/vulnerable child care to suffering communities around the world. Some of the ways you can help:
Through their Bless-A-Child program, your donations are used to build schools in Africa, rescue and care for war orphans in the Congo, or provide life-changing surgeries, such as cleft lip and club foot treatments, to babies in Asian and India.
* Volunteering or Donating to Disaster Relief programs in the U.S. or abroad. Safe water, food supplies, medical assistance, and more are brought to victims during natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy in New York, the earthquake/tsunami in Japan, and the devastating floods in South Carolina.
* Instead of going on that beach vacation, spend $350-$650 to go on an Impact Volunteer Trip. These eight-day service trips allow volunteers to learn what it is like to help alleviate human suffering in the U.S. Each trip takes 30 volunteers to areas where people are in the most need, such as helping the homeless on Skid Row or feeding hungry families in Texas.
In 1992, after years of working as Christian missionaries with indigenous cultures, Carl Gordon, and Bo Barredo created Advancing Native Missions (ANM). Their vision was to expand upon what they had already learned and to spread indigenous mission work to all corners of the world. ANM believes that the best way to spread the word of Jesus Christ is through the people who are native members of a particular culture. These native missionaries are better equipped to understand the plight of their neighbors with shared experiences, customs, and language. From humble beginnings, the pair felt the call to spread the word of God to cultures that had little access to Biblical resources and teachings. Their goal is always to connect with and train local pastors to help people in need while spreading the word of God.
By encouraging, advocating for, and equipping indigenous missionaries, ANM hopes to reach as many of the 40% of the world’s population who has not yet been touched by the word of Jesus. Some of the ways you can help:
* You can donate to a variety of indigenous projects based on a clear and specific need, so you will know exactly where your dollars are going. Some projects include printing Persian Bibles for Christians in Iran, distributing basic school supplies to tribes in the Amazonian rainforest or filling a container ship full of needed items to a school for the deaf in Honduras.
* Christmas Catalog gifts also fund smaller projects, such as buying bicycles for pastors, day camps for children, or baking courses for mothers who can then start small businesses to support their families.
* Collecting for the Nations is a monthly program that identifies one specific item of the need to be distributed around the world. Everyday items in any amount, such as shampoo, toothbrushes, pencils, notebooks, are selected and accepted each month.
Established in 1991 by Dave Phillips after encountering starving children in Honduras, the Children’s Hunger Fund (CHF) was created to deliver hope to suffering children and the means for local churches to conduct gospel-centered mercy missions in the U.S. and abroad. Over the past two decades, CHF has raised more than a billion dollars and helped both children and adults during times of crisis and disaster. To serving 15,000 meals per day after a major earthquake hits Los Angeles in 1994, to sending 15 truckloads of aid to Katrina refugees in 2005, to shipping dried fruit, medicine, and blankets to North Korean orphans in 2012, CHF has helped millions of people around the world in their greatest time of need. Some of the ways you can help:
* Think Inside the Box by helping to fill Food Paks for just 25 cents per meal. A Food Pak is a 20-pound box filled with 48 meals that go to a needy family. Each Food Pak costs only $12 to fill, is shipped to families around the world, and hand-delivered by trained volunteers who will minister to and help families in other ways.
* As a church or club project, empty Food Pak boxes will be delivered to your group with a shopping list that each member will use to fill the box. CHP picks up the filled boxes, and they are distributed. This is a great way to be actively involved in by actively participating in charity.
Become a Hope Partner by providing just one dollar a day to a family in need. Monthly gifts provide needy families with Food Paks, bulk food, nutritional supplements, personal hygiene items, and toys.
We are all familiar with The Salvation Army’s bell ringers that pop up at every retail store around the holidays each year. However, have you thought about where your spare change is going and whom it is helping? The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Their mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ while meeting global human needs through service and the love of God. With your donations, The Salvation Army provides hunger relief, housing assistance, homeless services, Christmas assistance, and after school programs for children and families throughout the country. They also support a variety of unique adult programs, such as substance abuse rehabilitation, veterans affairs, prison ministries, elderly care, anti-human trafficking programs, and missing person services. Some of the ways you can help:
* In 2014, approximately 30 million people received help from money collected through cash giving and the donation of clothing, furniture, vehicles, and household items. You can help by simply putting your spare change in the red kettle, giving online, or donating your unwanted goods.
* Donate your unused United and Delta airline miles by enabling The Salvation Army to move personnel quickly during disasters and provide travel to those in need of medical care or social services.
* Volunteer to help people in your community with their Volunteer Match program or join the Community Care Ministry to help carry out Christ’s commission to care for those in need.
Founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the U.S. to assist European survivors of WWII, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) now helps 100 million suffering people in 93 countries around the world. CRS is rooted in the Catholic faith and motivated by Jesus’ example to ease suffering, foster charity, and preserve the dignity of all human life. They are committed to serving people based on need alone, regardless of religion, race, or ethnicity. Using a holistic approach to help people reach their full potential, CRS sponsors a variety of programs that help people to help themselves. Agricultural programs help farmers rebuild their farming systems after natural disasters or civil unrest. Water and sanitation programs provide clean water resources and improved sanitation systems to millions of people around the globe. Microfinance programs give poor households access to community-based financial services where they can save and borrow money in a safe, low-risk environment. Some of the ways you can help:
* Donate to faithACTS, individual projects that specifically helps lift communities out of poverty, such as investing in Nicaraguan cocoa farmers to advance their businesses to the global market.
* Buy from the Gift Catalog to provide lifesaving equipment and services to poor communities, such as mosquito nets to protect six families from malaria, a sewing machine for entrepreneurial moms, or even a baby goat that will provide daily nutritious milk and the opportunity for families to sell milk and cheese in their communities.
* Donate to CRS Emergency Relief program to provide immediate assistance to the many crisis areas around the world, including those living in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake or Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing from war-torn countries in the Middle East.
Founded in 1980 by Bob and Gretchen Devoe, Lifeline Christian Mission began with its first clinic in Haiti. Helping the local people by providing physical care and spiritual ministry, their work quickly spread to other countries in need, including Honduras, Cuba, El Salvador, and more. God opened multiple doors for the mission, and they were able to spread the word of Christ within these communities with the development of new churches, schools, health clinics, disaster relief, children’s homes, nutrition, and home building programs. Today, Lifeline Christian Mission feeds, educates, and ministers to millions of needy people around the world through their many unique sponsorship programs, food drives, and mission trips. Some of the ways you can help:
* Sponsor a child in need for just $35 a month ($420 per year) which provides life impacting benefits within the mission program. Or send a child money directly for individual/family needs.
* Participate in the Quarter Back Challenge, a fun program that challenges kids and adults to fill an empty tube of M&M® Minis with 56 quarters ($14) and send it in to be used toward food donation shipping costs.
* Organize a community Peanut Butter Drive to collect jars of peanut butter to be shipped to hungry children in Haiti. Since 2002, more than 350,000 jars have been donated and are distributed to needy children, families, and pregnant women on a weekly basis.
Food For The Poor was started in 1982 to help the poorest of the poor in Jamaica. Today, through donations, they provide food, housing, medical care, education, and more to 17 of the poorest countries in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Food For The Poor’s mission is two-fold, to help the materially poor by providing services; and aid through local church outreach programs and to help the spiritually poor by providing opportunities to serve the poor and gain a renewed relationship with Christ through service. Some of the ways you can help:
* Rather than receiving gifts for your birthday this year, start your fundraising campaign by becoming a Champion For The Poor. This program allows you to create your own web page, share it with friends through social media, and transform lives with the funds you’ve raised.
* Choose an item from the Gift Catalog and send a holiday gift in honor of a loved one. There is a variety of life-changing gifts to choose from, including a Noah’s Ark gift of 2 goats, one donkey, two cows, three pigs, 20 chicks, and one beehive that will go to a hard-working family in need.
* Become an Angel of Hope and sponsor an orphaned or abandoned child by donating a monthly gift to a specific child for a little more than one dollar per day.