A Guide To Donating Internationally

When Americans are donating to charity, they tend to do so domestically. That’s great of course, but what if you want to do international giving as well? What if you’d like to send money to organizations that do good work globally, as well as helping charities here in the U.S.?

How do you choose the best organizations, and maximize how your money goes to work?

The following is a quick guide to donating money internationally.

Don’t Be Surprised If They Ask You To Transfer Money

There has been an increase in the number of charities asking people to transfer money directly. For example, you might send money to El Salvador using a direct money transfer service. This can allow groups to cut out some of the administrative elements of receiving and disbursing charitable donations.

With that being said, don’t directly transfer money to any charity or group until you’ve done your research and you’re sure you’re not being scammed and that your money will be put to good use.

Domestic Charities That Work Abroad

There is an option to find a charity that is based in the U.S. or operates a branch here domestically, but that does most of their work abroad. One example is Doctors Without Borders. They work around the world and can be a good charity to donate to, but there are many more.

If you’re still not sure what charity to donate to, you can use a tool like Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator allows you to search through charities around the world, and see how they’re independently rated. Some of the criteria Charity Navigator uses to determine the rating of a group includes factors like their financial health, accountability, and transparency.

Financial Research

Even with the help of something like Charity Navigator, you might want to do your own research on the financials of a charity before you give. You can look at how much of the money donated to the group goes toward administrative fees versus how much is actually directly used to help the cause.

There isn’t one standard for how much should go toward administrative costs, but you should be able to determine what seems reasonable by doing a bit of your own financial research.

Check with the Department of Treasury

Some organizations that may at first appear to be global charities may be considered terrorist-linked groups by the U.S. government. Giving to these groups, even inadvertently, can land you in trouble with the U.S. government. You can visit the Department of Treasury’s website to see if a charity you’re considering has been linked to terrorist activity.

Finally, when you’re donating money, you might want to think about how to make the most of your donation in terms of exchange rates and local currency. If you can donate in a currency that’s strong in the country where you want to donate, it can be helpful. Looking at currency exchange rates can guide you toward deciding on an international location to make a donation if you don’t already have one in mind.


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