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Charitable needs around the world

A look at acute needs in various regions of the globe — from aid for refugees in countries neighboring Syria to the response the effects of Zika in Latin America — and charities working to help. Map illustrations by Jacob Turcotte. 

Map illustration South Sudan.
Jacob Turcotte/Staff
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1. Hunger

Where: South Sudan

Why here? The UN’s World Food Program identifies this region as highly food insecure because of drought conditions that wiped out crops this past spring. Millions of people were left with little or no food until next year as a result.

Aid organizations: Gift of the Givers Foundation, Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

About these groups: Founded in 1943, CRS has over 5,000 employees worldwide and has won a number of commendations over the years for its responses to large scale disasters like the 2005 Pakistan Earthquake. Though affiliated with the Catholic Community in the United States, its efforts are targeted solely on the basis of need, regardless of religious affiliation. It received an A+ rating from CharityWatch in 2015. Africa-based Gift of the Givers was founded in 1992 and is funded primarily the Muslim community. For more on the unusual mix of problems the organization tackles, read Ryan Lenora Brown's cover story.  

About this list: Directing your money to where it can do the most good can be a quantitative decision, but also a deeply personal one. There are so many worthy causes to support, and an endless array of charitable organizations working to solve the world’s problems.

Priorities vary from person to person. A donation to a  local arts program may be more important to you than one toward mosquito nets in the developing world,  says Art Taylor, president of the Better Business Bureau’s charity evaluation arm, the Wise Giving Alliance. “And there’s nothing wrong with that. Giving is supposed to be from the heart.”

On the other side of the coin, organizations like GiveWell are taking a data-driven, analytical approach to charity evaluation to determine where one dollar can do the most good (their conclusion: it’s the mosquito nets).

This map aims to provide a bit of guidance on both fronts. One area of need is highlighted in each region – Syrian refugee aid, or Zika’s effects in Latin America – based on outside recommendations, data, and recent crises.

This doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist in other regions. Food insecurity is a problem in the United States as well as Yemen or the South Sudan. But we aim to identify areas where the problem is especially acute.

Next, we showcase two charities – one big, one small – working on each issue. The larger organizations, like Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children are among the biggest and most lauded. Their size, experience, and global presence make them, in many cases, uniquely equipped to aid in large-scale emergencies. All consistently earn top marks from a range of charitable watchdog groups like Charity Navigator, Wise Giving Alliance, and CharityWatch.

The smaller charities operate on a much more limited budget, but have found a way to tackle a precise corner of a particular problem to make an outsize impact. 

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