BEST CHARITY - 1999
This plucky nonprofit, nonsectarian group flies teams of health professionals into war-torn areas like Macedonia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Somalia. Though they'll do triage work in camps with recently displaced refugees, their focus whenever possible is to bolster existing indigenous healthcare systems. And after other agencies have flown off to the next hotspot, the American Refugee Committee stays on, assisting refugees as they move back home--rebuilding homes, installing potable-water systems, even building playgrounds for refugee kids. Such a commitment means the organization will sometimes remain in an area for more than a decade, long after the cause has dropped out of the headlines. And because the committee is nonsectarian and not based in Washington, D.C., it lacks the advantage of a congregation or nationwide funding organization to provide a consistent donor base. Which is where you come in: Earmark your contribution for the committee's work in a certain country if you like, or donate to the group's general fund.