With all that happens in today’s philanthropic world, definitions can get muddled. Humanitarian aid is material and logistic assistance to promote human welfare, often after natural or man-made disasters. The World Health Organization defines it as “aid that seeks to save lives and alleviate suffering of a crisis affected population.”

In essence, humanitarian aid is humans helping other humans.

There are countless examples of humanitarian aid, from large organizations to small-scale philanthropy events that benefit a larger cause. One of the goals of the United Nations is to provide humanitarian aid.

An example of a large humanitarian aid organization is Doctors Without Borders. Every year, Doctors Without Borders provides emergency medical care to millions in crisis after a disaster. It has operated in over 70 countries around the world over crisis such as armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition and natural disasters. According to their website, every day over 30,000 people are helping others through Doctors Without Borders.

On a smaller scale, humanitarian aid can be found locally. A local fundraiser for a cause, such as a charity walk to raise money, can support a humanitarian aid organization. For example, nearly 1,000 GoFundMe campaigns were made to raise money after the earthquake in Nepal, raising a total of over $5 million.

There are plenty of ways to get involved in humanitarian aid! Keep it simple and think locally. How can your community help others in need? Here are 5 easy ideas for you to try:

1. Organize a dinner with your friends and ask each person to donate a little to the charity of your choice.

2. Attend a charity walk or ride. You’ll get some exercise while raising money and awareness for a greater cause.

3. Clean out your closet and donate your old clothes.

4. Join an organization like Habitat for Humanity and help build a home for those who have lost their own.

5. Help out at a local food pantry. Make a difference right in your own neighborhood.

Before getting involved with the humanitarian aid of your choice, make sure to do your homework. Understand the issue–the problem at hand, the potential solutions, the dilemmas–before launching yourself into the organization. That way you will understand the complexity of the problem and be able to get a lot out of your experience.

– Hannah Resnick

Sources: GoFundMe, World Health Organization
Photo: Flickr