Which international development charity should I donate to?

Updated June 11, 2019. Subscribe now to stay informed.


There are people in many parts of the world who suffer unimaginable hardships. This is often a result of birthplace, and other circumstances outside of their control. We often wonder how we can help; how do we know which charities actually help pull these people out of poverty?

The Good Cause Co. has evaluated a variety Australia’s largest international development charities to help answer this question. We have evaluated (in alphabetical order): Amnesty International Australia, Australian Red Cross Society, CARE Australia, CBM Australia, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Médecins Sans Frontières Australia, Opportunity International, Oxfam Australia, Samaritan's Purse Australia, Save the Children Australia, Unicef Australia, and World Vision Australia.

Which ones are the best?

Overall, the charities we evaluated in this sector are of an extremely high standard. Several achieve our highest ‘Donate with Confidence’ recommendation, which means they clearly demonstrate they are trustworthy, and effective at achieving their mission. They are:

How do I choose between them?

Choosing which international development charity to donate to will largely depend on your values. They are all very different organisations with different management structures, funding models, and strategic goals. Here are some things to consider when making a decision:

  • Do I want to change lives in the short-term or long-term? Some charities focus on alleviating immediate suffering, whereas others will focus more on running programs that address the systematic problems that lead to poverty. The Fred Hollows Foundation deliver programs that treat curable blindness now. On the other hand, Oxfam, Australian Red Cross Society and CARE Australia deliver a broad suite of programs that focus on addressing the various root causes of poverty, as well as providing immediate disaster relief when needed.

  • Do I like a centralised or decentralised organisation? Aside from The Fred Hollows Foundation, organisations in the list are generally a ‘chapter’ or ‘member’ of a larger international organisation. In some cases, the Australian charity focuses mostly on fundraising, and directs money to an international secretariat for distribution. In other cases, money collected in Australia is used at the discretion of the Australian member charity. The work of CARE Australia and Amnesty International Australia is largely directed by an international sectretariat. In contrast, Oxfam Australia and Australian Red Cross Society set their own agenda, in cooperation with their international compatriots. The Fred Hollows Foundation is the only Australian-led charity in the list.

  • Do I think the government helps or hinders development? Most international development charities work closely with the Australian government to achieve development goals. But some, like Amnesty International Australia, work independently of government. This allows them to speak up for what they think is important. It also reduces their dependence on unpredictable government funding to deliver their work.


Still not sure which charity is right for you? Contact us and we will help guide you in the right direction.

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About us

The Good Cause Co.’s “Should I Give To…” provides independent evaluations of Australia’s largest charities. Our reviews are comprehensive and consider both the trustworthiness and effectiveness of each charity. We update our recommendations annually to ensure we provide relevant advice. We do this to help you feel confident about giving.