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Updated 2008

CharityWatch posts its list of the top-rated charities currently offering aid services to the Afghan people. Nearly 30 years of war and chaos have left Afghanistan devastated, with little or no electricity, running water, or sewage for many of its citizens. Deteriorating security, drought and corruption have exacerbated an already tenuous humanitarian situation - while insurgent attacks and international military operations are at a record high, along with civilian casualties, the New York Times reports that a harsh winter and drought resulted in the smallest harvest in years, leaving many in this subsistence agricultural society without enough food for the upcoming winter. In addition, the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief reported in March 2008 that inefficient international aid has meant 40 percent of the $15 billion in reconstruction assistance given to Afghanistan since 2001 has gone back to donor countries via corporate profits and consultant salaries.

CharityWatch, a leading charity watchdog that issues letter grade (A+ to F) ratings of nonprofit groups, identifies the following relief charities, which are providing aid to Afghanistan. These charities have received an “A” or “B” grade based on the portion of their budget going to program services and their fundraising efficiency.

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· CARE (A-)

· Catholic Relief Services (A)

· Church World Service (A-)

· International Medical Corps (A)

· International Rescue Committee (A+)

· Medical Teams International (A-)

· Mercy Corps (A-)

· Save the Children (A+)

· UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) (A+)


Give generously, but wiselyThese charities perform favorably in relation to CharityWatch benchmarks:

1) A charity should spend at least 75% of its budget on program services.
2) Charities should spend no more than $25 to raise $100.

Contact your favorite charities to find out if they provide the specific types of aid that you would like to fund, e.g., emergency relief, health care, infrastructure development, education, etc.

Americans wanting to help people in Afghanistan should send contributions to only those charities with an established track record of helping people in this region.

Tips for Making the Most of Your Donation:

The devastating effects of earthquake in Pakistan· Give to newly created charities only if you have reliable third-party verification of their credibility and/or have knowledge of and trust the officers and directors of the new group.

· Do not assume that a claimed celebrity endorsement is real or that the celebrity has adequately scrutinized the charity.

· Give with check or credit card instead of cash. There is little assurance that coin or currency donations will actually go to the intended beneficiary.

· Be cautious about giving to individual disaster victims that show up on covers of magazines or on television. Unpublicized victims may be more in need than publicized victims who are often flooded with gifts.

· Be cautious about giving in response to a telemarketing call. If you decide to donate, make sure you have reviewed all the information from the charity and ask what percentage of your contribution will fund the pertinent programs. For more tips on giving click here.

The best way to help is by sending a check. Cash donations enable charities to buy the most needed types of food, medicine, clothing, shelter materials and other supplies. By buying relief products locally or regionally, charities can reduce shipping costs and more rapidly deliver assistance. Before sending any goods, first contact the charity to find out if they are appropriate and if it will be cost effective to distribute them. For example, after the tsunami in southeast Asia, boxes of donated winter coats, scarves and fuzzy hats, completely useless items in tsunami stricken nations with tropical climates, were sent to these nations.

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