The top 10 charities changing the world in 2016

Susan Caminiti, special to CNBC.com
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These charities are household names — and with good reason. They're big and global, with budgets exceeding $100 million and net assets of at least $65 million. Yet they manage to do exceptional work both at home and abroad, all while maintaining top-notch financial management and transparency standards.

With any charity — but especially with these 10 large, far-reaching ones — it's important to confirm that they, in fact, do the kind of work you're passionate about supporting. "We encourage donors to look under the hood of the charity, especially large ones with multiple programs and services, to ensure that the charity is actually doing the work that they want to advance," says Sandra Miniutti, vice president of marketing for Charity Navigator, a service that provides information about a charity's functions, finances and management. It, along with BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Watch, is free to use, although others charge both the site user and the charity being rated.

Miniutti says it's also important to note how a charity's revenue is trending over time. If there are consecutive years of decreases, that could be a red flag.

The following are some of the largest and highest-rated charities helping women, children, the poor and the environment throughout the world, according to Charity Navigator. Their scores — ranked on a scale of 1 to 100 — are based on financial health, accountability and the transparency of reporting.

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10. Natural Resources Defense Council

A coalition that includes Native American tribes, Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council is on the National Marine Fi
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The focus of this New York City-based organization is nothing short of global: safeguard the Earth, its people, plants and animals and the natural systems that sustain life. Since its start in 1970, the Natural Resources Defense Council has worked with businesses, elected officials and community groups on issues such as global warming, cleaning up our oceans and water supplies, the need for sustainable communities and food security.

The NRDC has 2 million members and online activists worldwide and counts on some 500 scientists, lawyers and policy advocates for expertise and counsel.

Score: 95.48

9. United Nations Foundation

Aid workers receives flood relief supplies in Haiti.
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Created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner, the United Nations Foundation links the U.N.'s work with others around the world, mobilizing the energy and expertise of business and non-governmental organizations to help the U.N. tackle issues including climate change, global health, peace and security, women's empowerment, poverty eradication, energy access, and U.S.-U.N. relations.

To date, the U.N. Foundation and its partners have helped the U.N. keep girls in school; prevent child marriage; increase access to reproductive health education, services, and supplies; provide families with sustainable energy; cut measles deaths by 85 percent in Africa; distribute more than 6 million anti-malaria bed nets to 25 African countries; reduce polio incidence by 99 percent worldwide; and champion the payment of close to $2 billion in U.S. dues to the U.N.

Score: 96.18

8. Caring Voice Coalition

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Caring Voice Coalition empowers patients who live with a life-threatening chronic disease through comprehensive outreach programs and services aimed at financial, emotional and educational support.

Based in Mechanicsville, Virginia, the charity provides grants to help ease the financial burden of medication co-payments and health insurance premiums so that patients can start and remain on their prescription therapies. It also helps with alternate coverage, Social Security Disability assistance and patient support programs for insured or underinsured patients.

Score: 96.66

7. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Evangelist Billy Graham speaks during a dedication service on the campus of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte, North Carolina May 31, 2007.
Chris Keane | Reuters

Pastor Billy Graham established the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1950 as a way to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible. Today the organization, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, conducts its ministries through the BGEA and includes the weekly Hour of Decision radio program broadcast around the world and a syndicated newspaper column called "My Answer."

After 9/11 the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was started to provide emotional and spiritual care to individuals and communities living through a sudden tragedy. Volunteer chaplains minister to people in need by listening, praying and offering practical assistance.

Score: 97.17

6. Catholic Medical Mission Board

In Chile 38 percent of the births are carried out by caesarean section --with up to 60 percent in private hospitals-- the third highest rate in Latin America, following Brazil and Mexico, and is the country's most frequent surgery.
Claudio Santana | AFP | Getty Images

Providing health care for the world's poor is the mission of CMMB, a leading faith-based organization. It accomplishes this by building healthy, sustainable communities through local engagement and partnerships and by focusing on the leading causes of mortality for mothers and children in targeted communities throughout Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Over the past year alone, CMMB has helped nearly 44,000 pregnant women get access to better care and has distributed $266 million worth of medicine in the poorest countries around the world.

Score: 97.23

5. AmeriCares

A man drives a forklift past pallets of medical supplies for shipment to tsunami victims in Sri Lanka at the warehouse of relief organization AmeriCares, in Stamford, CT.
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AmeriCares is an emergency response and global health organization that saves lives and builds healthier futures for people in crisis in the United States and around the world. Since it was established in 1979, AmeriCares has delivered more than $12 billion in humanitarian aid to 164 countries, including the United States. It recently sent medicines and supplies to Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and is helping in the fight against Zika throughout Latin America and the Caribbean by partnering with hospitals and clinics.

A big focus of AmeriCares is educating community health workers so they in turn can build a stronger health-care system in the cities and towns where they live and work.

Score: 97.59

4. Samaritan's Purse

Hundreds of volunteers at the Denver Processing Center in Aurora, fill thousands of shoe boxes with toys and school supplies to be distributed to children around the world through Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child.
Kathryn Scott Osler | The Denver Post | Getty Images

Since 1970, Samaritan's Purse has helped meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine, with the purpose of sharing God's love through His Son, Jesus Christ. Through its ministry, Operation Christmas Child, the organization has delivered more than 135 million shoe boxes filled with gifts to poor children in more than 150 countries.

Its World Medical Mission sends doctors, equipment and supplies to underprivileged countries. Community development and vocational programs in impoverished villages and neighborhoods around the world help people break the cycle of poverty and give them hope for a better tomorrow.

Score: 98.23

3. The Rotary Foundation

Union Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan, WHO Representative to India Nata Menabde (L) and Trustee, Rotary Foundation, Sushil Gupta (R) presenting a memento to UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan during UNICEF celebrates a 'Polio Free India' function in New Delhi.
K.Asif | India Today Group | Getty Images

This charity brings together a global network of volunteers who dedicate their time and talent to tackle the world's most pressing humanitarian challenges. The Rotary Foundation connects 1.2 million members from more than 200 countries to projects that focus on disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, and maternal and child health.

PolioPlus is one of its biggest initiatives and seeks to eradicate polio around the world. Since the program's start in 1985, Rotary and its partners, including the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have immunized more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.

Score: 100


2. MAP International

Toussaint, patient with cholera symptoms, receives medical attention at the health center of Les Anglais, in Les Cayes in the southwest of Haiti on October 16, 2016.
Hector Retamal | AFP | Getty Images

MAP International is a global Christian health organization that partners with people living in conditions of poverty to save lives and develop healthier families and communities. For instance, it recently sent medicine and disaster-relief supplies to Haiti in the wake of the devastation left by Hurricane Matthew.

Founded in 1954, MAP also helps to prevent disease by improving water supplies and promotes health to create hope and lasting change in more than 115 countries. It works with local leaders to help educate and train communities to deal with health threats such as HIV/AIDS, and partners with more than 300 organizations, agencies and medical missions around the world.

Score: 100

1. Direct Relief

A cargo handler queues up part of a million–dollar relief shipment assembled by Operation USA and Direct Relief International for earthquake victims in India.
Luis Sinco | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Founded in 1948, Direct Relief is California's largest international humanitarian nonprofit organization. The organization provides medical assistance to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty and disaster, both in the United States and throughout the world.

Since 2000, Direct Relief has responded to a wide range of urgent and ongoing health emergencies by providing more than $3.4 billion in essential material resources such as medicine, supplies and equipment, including more than $500 million in assistance in the United States.

Score: 100

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