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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

   Feb 24, 2020

(Updated April 1, 2021)
CharityWatch announces a list of highly efficient and accountable charities involved in efforts to provide emergency assistance and aid for the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

ATTENTION: The charities listed in this alert were Top-Rated by CharityWatch at the time of its publication. CharityWatch updates our ratings throughout the year. To see if a particular charity is currently Top-Rated, please click on its name, below.

[See also: COVID-19: The Struggle & the Aftermath, a message from CharityWatch's Executive Director.]

The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. The WHO’s director-general stated, “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,” and called for countries to learn from one another’s successes, and act together to help protect each other against a common threat.

For some background, a new coronavirus was identified in December 2019 by the WHO. The virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, China. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, according to the WHO.

The number of confirmed cases of this coronavirus (COVID-19) has surpassed 128,540,982 worldwide. Approximately 2,808,308 people have died. With epidemiologists’ estimation that the number of cases in the world doubles every six days, the number of people infected and the death toll are expected to continue to climb.

The virus has elicited a large response globally, bringing travel restrictions and warnings, widespread quarantines, and shelter-in-place orders. There are also wider effects being felt in the growing concerns about continued economic instability from this pandemic.

Donors and foundations continue to give generously in the efforts to fight the coronavirus and philanthropic funding has reached $22.9 billion, including $12.4 billion from U.S. sources, according to Candid, a foundation research group.

Declaring a virus a pandemic is largely symbolic, given that the coronavirus has been spreading around the world for weeks. Health officials hope the declaration will raise public awareness of the impending danger.

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.


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.


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 assistance for the global coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic 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 assistance operations now underway.

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