A Strategic Guide to Ethical & Impactful Giving for Diaspora-based donors to Beirut Blast Response
By Hana Murr
I’ve created this list in response to several requests about the best organizations to donate to; I have instead organized the list both by recipient and the type of giving. While there are several options, I urge you to donate to the LGBTQ and migrant worker communities as they are by far among the most vulnerable in Lebanon and typically enjoy the least access to established NGOs & bigger organizations with significant resources. They are also much more likely to be subject to abuse, harassment, and violence than the already-vulnerable ‘average’ Lebanese, so your aid would be most impactful for them.
I know either (a) someone from each organization on this list personally, (b) someone who does, or (c) their reputation based on my years in Beirut working in the NGO/humanitarian aid and public policy sectors. Almost all have profiles on social media and have their contact info readily available for you to do your own due diligence.
Finally, THANK YOU for caring about the people who call Lebanon their home(land) and want to help them reclaim their present and future.
Mutual Aid Initiatives:
The main benefit of mutual aid is that 100% of donations go directly to the affected communities. The old saying “cash is king” rings true here as it’s efficient (requires no overhead except for transfer fees) and dignified—this gives the community members, who are already the experts on their own needs, the means to meet them.
- Grassroot Funds for Vulnerable LGBTQ in Beirut: mutual aid community-based initiative for immediate food aid and shelter for LGBTQ community.
- Disaster Relief for Lebanese Transgender Community: mutual aid community-based initiative centered on immediate food aid and shelter for Lebanese Non-binary and Trans Community.
Support less-publicized community-led organizations & initiatives:
These less-publicized organizations and initiatives allow givers to contribute directly to benefit a very specific vulnerable community—ones that don’t typically have access to the resources of large service providers & NGOs and suffer from the outsize effects of racism, sexism, and xenophobia. I’ve also chosen to highlight here a few causes that focus on a novel or forgotten side of the relief efforts, like mental health, animals, or women and girls.
What these all have in common is that these are smaller, mission-driven organizations without significant overhead and cumbersome procedures that sometimes hamper the immediacy of the response (which can be an issue with larger, international NGOs). Furthermore, international NGOs and household-name multilateral organizations have professional fundraising staff to sustain their income over a long period of time. Lastly, these multilateral organizations receive yearly disbursements from member states (so your taxes already pay for this!).
- Organizations for and by Migrant (domestic) Workers, who are especially vulnerable and come predominantly from the Philippines, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Sri Lanka—among other countries in the Global South—where some unscrupulous employers withhold their passports, lock them in homes, and work them for 16 hours a day. Many have recently been made homeless—abandoned by employers who could no longer pay them due to hyperinflation—and are sleeping on the streets outside their embassies that are ignoring them.
- Egna Legna: Food and medicine
- Migrant Community Center: emergency relief and safe space (with three locations)
- This is Lebanon: helps to repatriate abused and abandoned migrant domestic workers. This is a 501c3 organization (it is part of parent organization Domestic Workers Unite), so contributions are tax-deductible in USA
- Hammam Radio Fundraiser for Migrant Community Center and Haven for Artists: Hammam Radio is a Berlin-launched Arab feminist participatory radio project raising funds to be split between the two organizations. Haven for Artists (see director @Dayna_Ash) aims to endorse, encourage and expose the modern underground art scene, and has been turned into a shelter for displaced currently (for MCC info see above).
- Animals Lebanon: Animal shelter, donations via paypal and credit card
- ABAAD Resource Center for Gender Equality: one of Lebanon’s most prominent organizations working for women and girls has issued a seven-page Rapid Disaster Response Plan focusing on: basic assistance, mental health, gender-based violence prevention (including transfer to safe shelters for survivors), and self-care trainings for front-liners. Donation by bank transfer, details on second to last page.
- Baytna Baytak: Translates to “Our House, Your House,” which provides shelter for those whose homes were destroyed. It was initially founded to house first responders & medical staff during the pandemic
- Beit Beit: micro-relief effort run to renovate houses in underserved locations on periphery of the blast
- Embrace Lebanon: premiere, free mental health service provider which has established the first National Emotional Support and Suicide Prevention Helpline in Lebanon
- Jeyetik: Venmo their US-based partner @Kooyrigs subject “4Lebanon” to donate a $5 period pack (consisting of pads, sanitary wipes, painkillers, and a sweet snack) to menstruating women.
- Marsa Sexual Health Center: sexual health community center giving psychological support & food aid currently
- Medicine Donations to various hospitals, run by California-based pharmacist—and very trusted friend—Akram AbouKhalil. They just recently packed and are about to ship $22,000 worth of critical medicines (bought at wholesale prices) to the Rafic Hariri University Hospital in Beirut; they are in talks with other hospitals to see which will be the next recipient of critical medicines. BEYOND transparent, links to receipts and recorded zoom calls of their meetings are available on the page.
- Venmo @Natalie Kuraya-Ziadeh or Zelle at [email protected]. She is a US-based trusted friend who will bank transfer to Beirut-based @Rita_Feghaly and is teaming up with dietician friend Nour, who is using her catering kitchen to prepare and distribute meals to those in need. See @NourNashef for her instagram posts & stories. No overhead; 100% of funds go to buying the food and packaging.
Maximize your donation to the popular, publicized organizations:
- Venmo @Jehan-Jawad (also on Instagram). Jehan is a (yet another) trusted friend soliciting donations to be matched at 200% by her employer to LRC, Lebanese Food Bank, Beit el Baraka, and Zaman International. Specify the desired organization when doing the transfer, and she’ll screenshot the submission and share it with you for your records.
- Does your employer have a donation match program? You can organize something like what was done for Double Your Donations (which has now reached its 500,000 EUR goal) where the employer matched donations raised to be split among 5 NGOs.
The most popular, publicized organizations`:
If you’re contributing to these, do it via the above options in “Maximize your donations”:
- Beit el Baraka: Food aid (via a dignified “free” supermarket where people can pick what they need), home refurbishment assistance, financial assistance for medical needs
- Lebanese Food Bank: Food assistance
- Lebanese Red Cross: Immediate medical relief
Want something pretty for your home while also benefitting disaster survivors? Proceeds will be donated by:
Dikkeni (concept store of young Lebanese talents); artists Raphaelle Macaron & Nour Flayhan; Queer Art Habibi
Follow Hana Murr on Instagram @hana.m.banana and Twitter @https://twitter.com/hanamurr