Send cash, not stuff, to help the world’s refugees

As we recognize the millions of people fleeing crisis in search of a better life, let’s focus on channeling our generosity for good.

There is a best way to help: giving cash.

Giving cash to relief and charitable organizations working with people in need is the smartest and most compassionate way to give. Yes, refugees need material goods like shelter, clothes, and safe drinking water – but many refugees are on the move with rapidly evolving needs.

In the morning, a family of four’s biggest needs may be food and water. By the evening, perhaps they need shelter and medication. By the next day, this family could have any number of other needs – milk, clothes, first aid, blankets. Given that many refugees are making this journey on foot, maybe they need shoes.

A generous donor might feel that sending all of these things could solve the problem. Unfortunately, the chances of refugees actually receiving the shipment are slim. Shipping goods from the United States abroad can create a nightmarish logistical situation that can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to untangle. Donations have been known to show up in the wrong places, at the wrong time, and even be bulldozed out of the way to make room for more urgently needed supplies.

It’s a sad truth: material donations can create a disaster, rather than alleviate one.

Back to cash. Cash can be anything you want to send, and everything that’s needed. Even a small cash donation to a relief organization can be converted to shelter, milk for babies (even milk for many babies), medical supplies, or clothes. Cash can be shoes for a family’s journey. Cash is every bit as compassionate – and more economical – than donating clothes, bottled water, or canned goods. You can send cash today and help refugee families tomorrow.

Cash is immediate, compassionate, effective.

Three Ways to Help:

1. Contribute a monetary donation to a charitable organization approved by InterAction. Here is InterAction’s list of responding agencies.
2. Check out our guidelines for giving and our toolkit, which includes 100 ways to raise money for disaster relief efforts.
3. If you’ve already collected material goods for transport to refugee camps abroad, repurpose them to help those in need at home. Here are 55 ways to repurpose donated goods.

Make a difference this World Refugee Day. Give cash.