International Rescue Committee (IRC)

How to help refugees: your questions answered

Published Sep. 10, 2015. Last updated Dec. 9, 2015.

Thank you for your compassionate response to the plight of refugees and other displaced people—and especially for your interest in joining with the International Rescue Committee to help them. 

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about how you can make a difference in the lives of millions of people who have fled war, disaster and persecution.

Can I donate to the IRC's response to the refugee crisis in Europe?

Yes. The work of the IRC is possible only through the generosity of caring people like you. Your gift helps the IRC respond immediately and effectively to protect vulnerable families in most desperate need. You can help us aid refugees fleeing to Europe from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries in crisis by making a contribution in support of the IRC's emergency response.

You may also support our work where it is most needed and allow the IRC to direct how your gift will be used.

How can I donate to help refugees in my own community in the United States?

You may direct your gift to the IRC office closest to you to support refugees who are becoming a part of your community. You may also start a fundraising campaign and encourage friends and family to get involved.

How can I donate in the United Kingdom?

To give in the U.K., please visit the IRC-UK website.

How can I donate outside the U.S., U.K. or Canada?

You can make a donation from any country using our emergency response donation form.

Can I make a cash donation from my phone?

Yes, if you download the Square Cash app for iOS or Android and link it to your financial institution, you can make a fast and secure cash gift to the IRC from your phone.
 

I want to donate to an organization that's helping refugees who are fleeing to Europe. Why should I choose the IRC?

The IRC is the only aid group assisting refugees in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States. We are providing humanitarian aid to millions of people displaced by years of brutal conflict in Syria and Afghanistan.

in addition, the IRC is consistently awarded high marks by charity watchdog groups for our efficient use of financial support and the effectiveness of our work. Of every $1 the IRC spends, more than 90¢ goes to programs and services that directly benefit refugees and communities affected by war or disaster.

Will my employer match my charitable donation to the IRC?

You may be able to double — or even triple — the impact of your generous donation with a matching gift from your company. Many companies already match employee contributions to charitable organizations. See if your employer will join you in supporting the IRC and refugees.

How can my company support the IRC’s response to the refugee crisis in Europe?

The IRC provides our corporate partners with unique opportunities to demonstrate your company's values and commitment to humanitarian relief while helping rebuild the lives of refugees and displaced people worldwide. When you partner with the IRC, we work with you to design a custom program to effectively engage your company and employees. Learn more about IRC corporate partnerships.

How can I support refugees on an ongoing basis?

By donating monthly as a Rescue Partner, you support the IRC’s lifesaving work in more than 40 countries and 25 U.S. cities. Your steady financial support enables the IRC to respond swiftly and effectively when conflict strikes, to rescue lives in the midst of chaos, and to help fragile communities rebuild and move toward a more stable future.


Can I donate clothing or other goods to refugees in Europe?

Unfortunately, we cannot accept in-kind donations of emergency relief items from the general public for refugees in Europe. These items often include offers of air travel, clothing, tents, food items, etc. Additional information on why the IRC and other aid organizations adhere to these policies can be found on the Center for International Disaster Information website

However, many of the IRC’s offices in the United States do accept certain in-kind donations to benefit refugees rebuilding their lives in the U.S. Please see below.

Can I donate clothing or other goods to refugees arriving in the United States?

The IRC’s 25 offices across the U.S. provide newly-arrived refugees with the materials and support they need to rebuild their lives. Many of those offices accept in-kind donations of clothing, children’s items and household goods. You may reach out to the IRC office closest to you for information on the items that are most needed.
  

Why do aid organizations like the IRC prefer cash donations? 

Cash donations are the most efficient way for humanitarian organizations like the IRC to provide assistance to those in need. Read more on the Center for International Disaster Information website.

I can't donate money right now. Is there another way to help refugees?

Yes. There are many other ways to help:


How can I raise money to help refugees?

We’ve created a special Europe Refugee Crisis campaign to make it easy to raise money for refugees online. Set up a personalized donation page and ask your friends, family and community to donate to help people whose lives have been shattered by war and persecution who are seeking safety in Europe.
 

How can I volunteer to help refugees in Europe?

We are very grateful for your generosity, but the IRC does not send volunteers to our overseas programs, even in emergencies. However, we offer various volunteer opportunities throughout the year to support refugees starting new lives in the U.S.  Learn more below.
 

How can I volunteer to help refugees in the United States?

The IRC has 26 offices across the country that help welcome nearly 10,000 refugees each year to rebuild their lives in the U.S. Volunteers play an integral role in our work to restore safety, dignity and hope to people whose lives have been uprooted by war. Take a look at the many volunteer opportunities on our website and connect with an IRC office near you.
 

What is the IRC doing to bring more Syrians and other refugees to the U.S.? How can I help?

The IRC is responding to attempts by Texas and governors in 30 other states to prevent the resettlement of  Syrian and Iraqi refugees in their states.

Earlier, the IRC joined Refugee Council USA, a coalition of U.S. non-governmental organizations focused on refugee protection, in its call for 100,000 Syrian refugees to be resettled to the U.S. in 2016. 

The IRC has expressed dismay at President Obama’s announcement that the U.S. government would increase by just 2,000 the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the country in 2016 — from 8,000 to 10,000. This latest U.S. commitment is only a first step toward alleviating the suffering of Syrian civilians. 

The IRC and members of Refugee Council USA sent a letter to the White House pledging our support to assist with the resettlement of up to 100,000 Syrians in the U.S. next year. The IRC strongly believes that this increase is urgently needed to rescue families the United Nations refugee agency has identified as the most vulnerable. Resettling Syrian refugees in the U.S. will also relieve some of the burden on neighboring countries — Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan — that are already hosting 4 million people who have fled the conflict in Syria.

You can support this effort by signing our petition to call on world leaders to make all #RefugeesWelcome and also by joining us in asking elected officials in the U.S. to offer a safe haven and a new start to Syrian families and other refugees fleeing war and persecution at home.
 

How can I sponsor a refugee family? 

Unfortunately, the IRC’s emergency teams are unable to pair families with financial sponsors. However, your support of our emergency relief efforts directly benefits families escaping crisis and allows the IRC to respond immediately and effectively. 

In addition, some of the IRC’s 26 offices in the United States offer opportunities to mentor refugee families and support cultural orientation for families who have recently arrived in the United States, and volunteer in a variety of other critical ways. Please review the volunteer opportunities at the office closest to you.
  

Can I help a refugee family come to the United States?

We appreciate your compassion, however only certain immediate family members in the U.S. may petition for resettlement for their relatives who are refugees overseas. To do so, the family living in the U.S. must contact an agency in their area affiliated with one of the nine national voluntary resettlement organizations, which work with the U.S. State Department. Filing an application in support of a relative does NOT guarantee that they will be accepted for resettlement in the U.S., as they must demonstrate that they meet all eligibility criteria through the same process as all refugees resettled through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

If you'd like to help refugees who have already been invited to start new lives in the U.S., contact an IRC office near you or another resettlement organization in your community to find out about volunteer opportunities.

Learn more about how refugees make it to the United States.
 

Can I host a refugee family in my home?

We are deeply grateful for your compassionate response to the plight of refugees. The IRC does not place refugee families in private homes because we cannot independently verify the safety of each placement. Instead, we help refugees who have been welcomed by the U.S. to rebuild their lives by helping them find their own safe, secure homes. We feel that this is a more sustainable solution that respects the inherent dignity of the people we serve.
 

How can I adopt a refugee child?

The IRC does not facilitate adoptions, but supports traumatized children and works to reunite them with family members wherever possible.

In most cases it is best for orphaned children to be placed with members of their extended family or with other families from their own communities. Read more about protocols about adoption set forth by the United Nations refugee agency and the U.S. Department of State.
 

Where can I learn more about the IRC's relief and refugee resettlement efforts?

Read an overview of the IRC’s response to the crisis with links to pages where you can learn more about our work on behalf of refugees in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States. Also, you can get updates from IRC aid workers providing emergency support to refugees arriving in Greece.
 

How can I take action to urge the world's leaders to do more to welcome refugees?

Sign our petition to make all #RefugeesWelcome and join us in asking your government officials to offer a safe haven and a new start to Syrian families and other refugees fleeing war and persecution at home.
 

How can I help raise awareness of the refugee crisis?

Join @theIRC on Twitter and the International Rescue Committee on Facebook to get updates on the crisis response and help us spread the word.

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