There are thousands of organisations around the world providing humanitarian aid to people affected by conflicts, disasters and poverty. Although many humanitarian NGOs are small grassroots organisations on the front-line, many of the best known are global brands with multi-million-dollar budgets and tens of thousands of staff across the world.
Although size isn’t everything, we know everyone with an interest in the aid sector has wondered, which is actually the largest humanitarian organisation globally?
The International Federation of The Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) is the largest humanitarian organisation in the world. Made up of 192 national societies, the IFRC reaches over 160 million people a year and has 473,000 paid staff and 11.6 million volunteers. Its total budget is around 25 billion USD, making it by far the biggest aid agency globally.
So, there you have it, the biggest humanitarian aid agency in the world. With that said, let’s explore more some of the biggest organisation doing great things in the world today…
Although a direct comparison is obviously impossible, we’ve gone ahead and worked out the largest humanitarian NGOs in the world by funds, number of staff and how many countries they work in…
|Organisation||Total Budget (USD)||Number of Staff||Number of Countries|
|World Vision||2.6 billion||37,000||90|
|Catholic Relief Services||980 million||5,000||110|
|Save the Children||781 million||24,000||117|
|Samaritan’s Purse||722 million||1,500||100|
|CARE International||700 million||5,000||104|
Now you’ve got an over, let us give you some information on each of these colossal humanitarian agencies and explore the types of aid programmes they specialise in…
International Federation Red Cross and Red Crescent
As we said, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) is the largest humanitarian aid agency in the world. Made up of 192 national societies, the IFRC provides humanitarian relief, protection and assistance to people affected by armed violence and war. Founded in 1919, the IFRC is one of the oldest, as well as the biggest, aid organisation globally.
The IFRC reaches around 160 million people a year. It provides vital assistance through national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and acts as a neutral and independent provider of humanitarian relief. With offices all around the world, the ICRC is a huge humanitarian actor.
As the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, the IFRC has over 473,000 paid staff and 11.6 million volunteers. They reach nearly 50 million people with their disaster response work alone and over 100 million with long-term services and development programming. The IFRC’s budget is more than 25 billion USD globally. The IFRC is by far the biggest humanitarian aid agency in the world.
BRAC, standing for Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee is one of the largest NGOs in the world. Founded in Bangladesh in 1972, BRAC is a world leader in micro-finance, education, public health and disaster response. With over 100,000 staff, BRAC is an enormous humanitarian organisation.
Although most of their work is focused in Bangladesh, BRAC also works in 11 countries worldwide including Uganda, Tanzania, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Sudan and Indonesia. With over 70% of their staff being women, BRAC is a one of the most important organisations for women’s empowerment in Bangladesh.
With a budget of over 1 billion USD, BRAC is one of the biggest humanitarian organisations in the world. They reach over 126 million people with their assistance and are regularly sighted as a pioneering example of developing countries NGOs.
World Visions is one of the largest humanitarian organisations in the world. It is an evangelical Christian aid agency founded in the US. With branches in across the North America, UK, Europe and Australia, as well as aid projects in more than 90 countries, World Vision is one of the biggest humanitarian NGOs there is.
With work spanning six continents and more than 37,000 staff, World Vision is a huge NGO. Their humanitarian work includes a focus child protection, education, disaster management, health, nutrition and water provision. As one of the largest aid organisations, World Vision projects have an extensive scope.
The total budget of World Vision is around 2.6 billion USD. This makes them one of the largest humanitarian agencies in the world. With a strong focus on humanitarian aid and the Christian faith, World Vision are also one of the biggest religious NGOs operating today.
UNICEF is the United Nation’s children’s agency. Working to assist children through both development aid and crises response, UNICEF is one of the biggest humanitarian agencies. As a major part of the UN, UNICEF’s operates in more than 190 countries, giving it one of the largest geographical coverages of any aid organisation.
UNICEF’s work on child protection, nutrition and education is famous across the globe. With an annual budget of around 6.4 billion USD, UNICEF is a colossal organisation. Working to assist children in even the hardest to reach places in the world, UNICEF aims to protect the rights of children everywhere.
With more than 10,000 staff, UNICEF is one of the largest humanitarian organisations there is. The huge scale of UNICEF means its vital work on childhood nutrition, clean water provision, vaccines, education and emergency aid is able to reach millions of children around the world.
Catholic Relief Services
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the leading catholic humanitarian aid agency. Reaching over 130 million people across five continents, CRS is an enormous humanitarian organisation. Their work covers emergency response, education, health, disaster recovery and agriculture. CRS is also one of the biggest faith-based NGOs in the world.
CRS has over 5,000 staff globally. Founded in 1948, the NGO has projects across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Latin America. With a total budget of around 980 million USD, Catholic Relief Services are one of the biggest humanitarian organisations in the world.
Catholic Relief Services is one leading NGO’s working on microfinance, peacebuilding and HIV and water and sanitation around the world. They have projects in 110 countries, making them one of the biggest aid NGOs in terms of countries. CRS is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in the United States.
Save the Children
Save the Children is one of the largest humanitarian organisations in the world working for children. Working in more than 117 countries, Save the Children runs programmes to assist children and families affected by conflict, disaster and poverty. Founded in 1919, Save the Children it one of the oldest, as well as the biggest, humanitarian NGOs in the world.
Specialising in running programmes for children, Save the Children’s aid work covers disaster response, child protection, education, childhood nutrition, health and shelter. With a total budget of around 781 million USD, Save the Children is an enormous humanitarian organisation.
As one of the leading NGOs working and advocating for children, Save the Children has 24,000 staff worldwide. With member HQ’s spread across 30 countries and projects over six continents, Save the Children has one of the biggest reaches of any humanitarian organisation working today.
International Rescue Committee
Founded in part by Albert Einstein in 1933, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is one of the largest humanitarian organisations working with refugees. With offices in more than 40 countries, IRC’s work combines assistance to refugees in host countries in both the developed and developing world.
ICR has a total budget of around 775 million USD, making it one of the largest humanitarian aid agencies. Their programmes focus on education, protection, water and sanitation and shelter. IRC are also one of the largest aid NGOs advocating for refugee rights worldwide.
With more than 11,000 staff worldwide, IRC is one of the biggest humanitarian agencies. Responding to humanitarian emergencies around the world, as well as assisting refugee integration in Western countries. Reaching millions of people a year, IRC is one of the most significant, and biggest, aid organisations.
United Nations High Commission For Refugees (UNHCR)
The United High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is the UN’s refugee agency. As a major part of the UN’s humanitarian work, UNHCR is one of the biggest aid organisations in the world. Assisting millions of refugees each year, UNHCR has offices in 134 countries. As well as providing direct assistance to refugees, UNHCR is also one of the largest donors of funds to aid agencies globally.
UNHCR’s work includes providing shelter and protection for displaced people, as well as healthcare. They are also one of the leading advocacies for refugee rights. With a total budget of around 8.6 billion USD, UNHRC are an enormous humanitarian actor. They are seen as one of the most significant global organisations working with, and for, refugees.
With 17,300 staff across the world, UNHCR is one of the biggest humanitarian organisations. Drawing on the significant resources of the United Nations, UNHCR leads projects across many countries where refugees and displaced people need assistance. UNHCR is also one of the leading organisations raising awareness of the ongoing refugee crises and campaigning for refugee rights.
World Food Programme (WFP)
The World Food Programme (WFP) is the United Nations agency tasked with tackling world hunger. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020, WFP is one of the most significant, and biggest, humanitarian organisations in the world. With a total budget of around 190 million USD, WFP works in areas of famine and food insecurity to save lives and reduce the long-term effects or malnutrition.
Working in both emergency settings and on longer-term development projects, WFP provides food aid, works with communities on sustainable food supplies and helps disaster prone areas build resilience. Working in 88 countries, WFP is one of the largest aid agencies in the world.
As the leading global actor working on food provision and food security, WFP is one of the biggest humanitarian organisations. With around 90,000 staff, the World Food Programme is one of the main aid agencies working to end world hunger. In 2019 WFP assisted 97 million people.
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
The Norwegian Refugee Council is one of the most important organisations working globally with refugees and one of the biggest humanitarian aid organisations. Their work focuses on camp management, food provision, clean water, shelter, legal assistance and education. NRC is also a leading advocate for refugee rights and campaigns on behalf of displaced people globally.
NRC has 15,000 staff worldwide making it one of the largest humanitarian aid NGOs. They assist around 9 million people a year across 30 countries. Headquartered in Oslo, Norway, NRC responds to emergencies around the world alongside running longer-term projects assisting refugees.
With an annual budget of around 4.65 billion USD, the Norwegian Refugee Council is an enormous humanitarian organisation. They are also one of the most significant NGOs working with refugees and are seen a global leading in assisting displaced people. NRC helps around 12 million people a year.
Medecins Sans Frontieres
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) – Doctors Without Borders, is one of the most famous, and largest, aid NGOs in the world. Renowned for their medical assistance to people affected by conflicts and disasters as well as their independence, MSF are one of the main international humanitarian agencies. MSF works assisting people through the provision of quality and accessible healthcare.
MSF employs over 36,000 staff worldwide, making them one of the biggest humanitarian organisations. Running programmes around the world, including in conflict zones and areas hit by disasters, MSF is one of the leading medical NGOs in the sector. MSF assists around 11 million people a year.
MSF has headquarters across Europe and North America and operations in more than 60 countries. With a total budget of around 1.63 billion USD, MSF is a massive humanitarian NGO. Alongside providing direct medical assistance to people in need, MSF is famous for campaigning for peoples access to quality healthcare, wherever in the world they are.
The American Christian NGO Samaritan’s purse is one of the largest humanitarian organisations in the world. Using evangelical Christianity as their basis, Samaritan’s Purse work on a huge arrange of humanitarian projects including disaster relief, medical aid, refugee assistance and education.
Working in more than 100 countries, Samaritan’s Purse is one of the biggest faith-based NGOs. Their international crises response work aims to address the critical needs of people affected by war, disasters, famines and epidemics. With a total budget of around 722 million USD, Samaritan’s Purse one of the largest actors in the humanitarian sector.
Samaritan’s Purse partners with Christian organisations worldwide to deliver life saving assistance. With thousands of employees of their own, they are one of the most significant, and biggest, humanitarian aid organisations. Samaritan’s Purse provides aid to millions of people around the world each year.
The American NGO CARE International is one of the biggest aid agencies in the world. Originally founded to provide assistance to Europe after World War Two, CARE now works around the world providing emergency relief as well we running projects including food security, women’s empowerment, sexual and reproductive health and climate change.
With nearly 10,000 staff worldwide, CARE International is one of the largest actors in the humanitarian sector. Alongside providing humanitarian aid, CARE is also a leading advocate on the rights of women and girls and those affected by crises, conflicts and disasters. CARE reaches around 80 million people a year.
Working in 104 countries, CARE International is a leading NGO working for women and girls globally. With a budget of nearly 700 million USD a year, CARE’s work is extensive with projects across five continents. CARE International is a significant global organisation working in humanitarian sector and one of the biggest NGOs in the world.