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Australian Wildfires Relief

   Jan 08, 2020

CharityWatch announces a list of highly efficient and accountable charities involved in efforts to provide emergency relief and humanitarian assistance in Australia.

The wildfires that have been spreading across Australia since September 2019 amid the country’s record-breaking heat wave have burned approximately 16 to 20 million acres. Every state across the country has been impacted, with New South Wales hit hardest. The deaths of at least 25 people are blamed on the fires, and almost 2,000 homes have been destroyed. Entire towns have been forced to evacuate. The country’s biodiversity has also been devastated, with an estimated one billion animals having been lost to the fires. States of emergency have been declared in New South Wales and Victoria, and the country’s army reserve troops have been called up to assist in recovery efforts. Economists are estimating the economic damage from the wildfires will exceed $4 billion.

Listen to CharityWatch president, Daniel Borohcoff, on The 21st, a production of Illinois Public Media, commenting on the most effective ways to give and make sure your money is going to the right place after a disaster. Mr. Borochoff joins the program at the 9:50 minute mark.

The charities listed below perform favorably in relation to CharityWatch benchmarks:
1) A charity should spend at least 75% of its budget on program services.
2) A charity 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 shelters, food and water, health care, psychological trauma counseling, rebuilding efforts, etc.

DONORS BEWARE

As with any charitable contribution, Americans wanting to help with disaster relief efforts should only give to legitimate charities with an established track record of helping people in need.

  • Be on guard for a surge of solicitations related to any highly publicized crisis. There will be fraudulent charity solicitations, some involving websites and email links attempting to steal your credit card information for identity theft or insert malware on your computer.
  • Do not respond to, or click on any attachments, links or pictures included in, emails or text messages received from unknown senders.
  • Social media will include many fake victims. Do not donate to unknown individuals purporting to need aid that post on Facebook, GoFundMe, etc. These may be fraudsters, and even if they are legitimate victims, they may receive an unfairly large amount of aid.
  • Scammers may try to use copy-cat names similar to those of well-known charities. Avoid name confusion by independently verifying that the charity is legitimate before you donate. Reputable charities will not pressure you to give immediately.
  • Beware of individuals or others claiming to be third party intermediaries for charities or those in need. It is best to give directly only to the charities that you are confident are legitimate and recognized for providing disaster or humanitarian relief.

SEND A CHECK, NOT GOODS

The best way to help is by sending a check or donating securely by credit card. Such 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 a tsunami in the Pacific, boxes of donated winter coats, scarves and fuzzy hats, completely useless items in tsunami-stricken nations with tropical climates, were sent.

CharityWatch identifies the following Top-Rated charities, which are providing relief for the victims of the Australian wildfires and receive an “A” or “B+” grade based on the portion of their budget going to program services and their fundraising efficiency. Top-Rated charities also must meet CharityWatch's Governance and Transparency benchmarks. Contact the organizations below for information on specific relief operations now underway.

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