Watchdogs recommend researching before you give money, with several compiling lists of the most effective charities.
Devastating earthquakes have killed thousands of people in southern Turkey and northern Syria, and dozens of countries have deployed search and rescue teams while humanitarian groups race to respond to the complex situation.
For those seeking to donate to help the response, charity groups and watchdogs advise taking some basic steps.
First, they recommend researching the charity to make sure they are reputable.
Second, they recommend determining if a charity will be the most effective in responding to a given crisis.
Third, they usually recommend giving cash, which offers chosen aid groups the most flexibility.
How to choose a charity?
Luckily, several groups monitor and rate charities and their effective and efficient use of funds.
They include CharityWatch, which provides a database and general ratings of groups, including the percentage of a donation that will be used in operational costs. The group advises that potential donors double-check the name of purported charities, as imitators may use names similar to long-established organisations. It also recommends giving directly to a chosen group.
Meanwhile, Charity Navigator has compiled a list of 28 charitable groups most relevant to the disaster in Turkey and Syria, as well as ratings for each group.
The organisation, which focuses on groups either based in the United States or with offices in the country, gives high ratings to the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, ICNA Relief USA, Plan International Inc, and Direct Relief.
Also highly rated are the Zakat Foundation of America, GlobalGiving, Save the Children, CARE, and the American Red Cross.
The Council on Foundations has also compiled a list of recommended organisations, including several local groups, that have launched emergency funds to respond to the situation in Turkey and Syria.
Among the groups are GlobalGiving, Give2Asia, Turkish Red Crescent, Turkey Mozaik Foundation and Turkish Philanthropy Funds.
Meanwhile, United Nations agencies, including its children’s fund, UNICEF, directly accept donations.
With the disasters disproportionately affecting millions of Syrians displaced by 12 years of war, the UN’s refugee agency has also launched a donation appeal to provide shelter and support.
Oxfam, an international organisation that combats poverty, and Doctors Without Borders, a global medical relief organisation, have also launched appeals for funds.
Aid to war-torn Syria represents a particularly complex challenge, with Syria’s ambassador to the UN telling reporters on Tuesday that all aid should be given in coordination with the government.
That comes as opposition-held areas in northwest Syria have been largely cut off from aid deliveries due to damage to the only approved humanitarian crossing with Turkey. The Syrian Civil Defence, a rescue group also known as the White Helmets that operates in opposition-held parts of Syria, have launched a GoFundMe appeal for aid to help their efforts in the rebel-controlled areas.
The volunteer group receives funding from several Western governments, including the US and the United Kingdom.