The FAQ is designed to answer the most frequently asked questions Direct Relief receives. If you have a question that is not answered, please contact us so that we can get you an answer right away.

Mission & History

Q: What is Direct Relief? What does Direct Relief do?
A: Direct Relief is a nonprofit medical assistance and disaster relief agency based in Santa Barbara, California. Since 1948, Direct Relief has provided assistance to indigenously run healthcare facilities and projects by supplying them with specifically requested and appropriate pharmaceuticals, supplies, nutritional supplements, and medical equipment. We serve the poor and victims of natural and civil disasters without regard to political affiliation, religious belief, ethnic identity, or ability to pay.

Q: Who started Direct Relief?
A: In 1945, William Zimdin, an Estonian immigrant who had amassed significant wealth in pre-war Europe, began sending thousands of relief parcels containing food, clothing, and medicines to relatives, friends, and former employees who were rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of World War II. The William Zimdin Foundation was established on August 23, 1948, as a California not-for-profit corporation.

After Zimdin’s death in 1951, Dezso (Dennis) Karczag, a Hungarian immigrant and close business associate of Zimdin’s, assumed management of the organization, which changed its name to Direct Relief Foundation in 1957. In 1982, the it became Direct Relief.

For the full history, please see the History Page where you will also find videos and images.

Financials and Funding

Q: How are Direct Relief and its programs funded?
A: Direct Relief does not rely on any funding from government grants. Direct Relief’s support comes entirely from private individuals, associations, foundations, and businesses who entrust us with cash and resources so that we can fulfill the organization’s humanitarian mission to help improve the health and lives of people around the world.

Q: How does the bequest support fundraising?
A: The bequest funds from Mr. DiStefano’s estate are held in the Direct Relief Foundation, a separate legal nonprofit organization overseen by a Board of Trustees, which is composed of current directors and former board chairs of Direct Relief. Its sole mission is to support Direct Relief.

Funds from the Direct Relief Foundation are transferred to Direct Relief to pay fundraising expenses. This allows all incoming donations to be used for activities related to the organization’s humanitarian operations.

Q: Why is the Direct Relief Foundation separate?
A: The Direct Relief Foundation was established in 2007 after the bequest was received in recognition of the long-term benefit the funds could provide to the organization. Direct Relief Foundation enables these funds to be managed separately, with a long-term view, but also to be available when needed at the discretion of the Board of Directors of Direct Relief, who also serve on the Board of the Direct Relief Foundation.

Because the Direct Relief Foundation is a supporting organization of Direct Relief and a separate legal entity, the law requires that its finances be managed, audited, and reported separately in the Form 990. However, the financial activity of the Direct Relief Foundation has to be consolidated in the financial statements of Direct Relief, in accordance with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

The Direct Relief Foundation is a “type 1” 509(a)(3) supporting organization. Other common examples of supporting organizations of this type are university endowments and groups organized to support essential work of community hospitals. Click here for more information on supporting organizations from the IRS website.


Q: Exactly how much of my donation is going directly to people in need? How much of my donation is used for administrative costs?
A: Direct Relief covers all of its fundraising costs internally, meaning that 100% of donated funds go to Direct Relief’s program operations.

Q: How can I be assured my donation is directly helping people in need?
A: We commit to spending your donation where you designate. When you select “wherever most needed,” you allow us to strengthen health systems treating vulnerable people around the world and to respond to emergencies that do not receive widespread attention. We commit to spending your money in the most productive, efficient way possible.

Q: Can I choose a specific program or country to support?
A: All of the funds we receive for specific emergencies are devoted entirely to those events. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific purpose or area, we will honor that wish or inform you if we cannot and offer to return your contribution. We have not and will not collect money for a specific event or purpose with the intention of using it for other purposes.

Q: How do I join Direct Relief’s monthly giving program?
A: Joining our monthly giving program is an easy and convenient way to support Direct Relief’s efforts to provide medical aid to clinics and their patients in the U.S. and around the world.

On the Monthly Donations page, you can schedule a monthly or yearly gift to Direct Relief. Each month your contribution will be automatically transferred from your credit/debit card or bank account to Direct Relief.

Q: Do you accept matching gifts from my employer?
A: Absolutely! If you work for one of the many companies that have matching gift programs, the value of your gift to Direct Relief can be doubled or even tripled! Some companies even match the gift of a spouse and retirees. Please contact your company’s personnel or Human Resources department for more information.

Q: May I donate through my workplace?
A: Each year thousands of employees are given the opportunity to direct a portion of their paycheck to the charities of their choice through workplace giving campaigns. You can help provide medical aid to those in need by directing your workplace contribution to Direct Relief.

If your company participates in the United Way campaign, simply list Direct Relief on the United Way Donor Designation Pledge form. Federal workers who give through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) can select Direct Relief as the designated charity of choice. Click here for more information on workplace giving.

Q: May I donate in a currency other than U.S. dollars?
A: We accept donations in a number of foreign currencies. Please contact Julie Aguiniga at (805) 964-4767 x 171 for more information.

Q: May I make a gift of stock?
A: One of the most advantageous ways to donate to Direct Relief is with a gift of stock. You can gift appreciated stocks to Direct Relief simply by transferring them into our account. The total value of the stock upon transfer is tax-deductible.

Please visit our Stock Donation page for detailed information and instructions.

Q: Can I give in memory of or as a tribute to someone special?
A: It is possible to make a donation in memory of someone or to commemorate a holiday, birthday, wedding or other special occasion. If you plan to donate online, please visit our Tribute page. If you would like mail a check, please send a note with the tribute information, including, the honoree’s name, and the name and address where you would like us to send a card indicating that this gift has been received.

Q: Is my contribution tax-deductible?
A: Yes. Direct Relief is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and 100% of contributions are tax deductible for United States citizens to the fullest extent of the law. For donors outside of the United States, please consult with your tax advisor regarding whether your donation is tax deductible.

Direct Relief’s Federal Tax ID, or Employer Identification Number (EIN), is 95-1831116.

Q: Will I receive a receipt for my donation?
A: Yes, you will receive a charitable tax receipt for income tax purposes.

Q: May I donate medical supplies to Direct Relief?
A: Due to California Pharmacy law, Direct Relief cannot accept medical products from individuals. If you are a manufacturer/distributor, please see the Direct Relief Network or contact Pat Bacuros at (805) 964-4767 x 153. If you are a representative from a healthcare facility (hospital, clinic, nursing home), please contact either Ashley Cooley at (805) 964-4767 x 107 or Carrie Baptista at (805) 964-4767 x 176.

Q: I would like to host a fundraiser to benefit the work of Direct Relief. How do I get started?
A: Easily! Direct Relief has developed a guide to help you with your fundraising effort. Get started by visiting our Fundraise page.

Q: Does Direct Relief accept other forms of donations like houses or cars?
A: Yes. For non-monetary gifts such as property, please contact Millie Barrett, Director of Development, to discuss your options.

Q: Does Direct Relief sell, rent or trade donor information to other agencies?
A: No. Direct Relief values your support, and is committed to protecting your privacy. We will not surrender or sell your information for any commercial use or for any use that is not directly linked to our activities.

To learn more, read our Donation Policies.

Matching Gifts

Double Your Impact with an Employer Matched Gift
Thanks to the generosity of corporate supporters, you may be able to increase your donation through a Matching Gift Program. Many employers will also match gifts given by retirees, spouses, and Board members.

Q: What is a matching gift?
A: When a company employee makes a donation to a non-profit organization and their employer donates an equal, or in some cases, a greater amount to the same non-profit, effectively doubling the donation. With over 16,500 companies in the U.S. offering this benefit to employees, it is the easiest way to increase the impact of your donation to Direct Relief.

Q: How do I know if my employer has a matching gift program?
A: Please contact your company’s personnel or Human Resources department to find out if your employer has a matching gifts program.

Q: How do I know if I am eligible for matching gifts?
A: Chances are that if your company has a matching gift program, you are eligible! The majority of participating companies allow any full-time employee with a minimum of one year of service to participate in this employee benefit program. Part-time employees, retirees, and board members may also qualify.

Q: Where do I get a matching gift form?
A: Please ask your company’s personnel or Human Resources department for necessary paperwork. In some cases, your company will provide a link to their intranet where you can login and submit your matching gift request to them online. They’ll process it and send it to us.

Q: After I submit the matching gift form, will all my future contributions be matched too?
A: NO. This is a common misconception. You must submit a matching gift form with each contribution that you make to Direct Relief for your gift to be matched.

Q: How much will my employer match?
A: At Direct Relief, no gift is ever too small… or too large! We appreciate all donations, as every dollar plays a significant part in helping people in the U.S. and around the world lead healthier, more hopeful lives. However, your employer will match only the minimum and maximum amount set by your company. In most instances, the minimum donation starts at $25 and the maximum can be from $500 to $25,000. To find out how much your employer will donate to match your gift, please check with company’s personnel or Human Resources department.

Q: What if I am retired?
A: Good news – it is estimated that one in three companies will match the charitable gifts of their retirees. If you were eligible for matching gifts during the tenure of your employment, you may still be able to have that company double your donation to Direct Relief. Please contact your company’s personnel or Human Resources department for more information.

Q: What about a donation of stock or securities? Do matching gifts only apply to cash donations?
A: Not necessarily. A large majority of gift matching companies match donations made by cash, credit, or check. However, matching companies also match gifts made in stock or securities. Please contact your company’s personnel or Human Resources department for more information.

Q: When is the best time to donate and have my gift matched?
A: Direct Relief happily accepts donations and matching gifts at any time of the year! However, around the holidays, some companies increase their gift matching ratios, allowing for you to make an even greater impact with your contribution. Please contact your company’s personnel or Human Resources department for more information.

Q: How long will it take for the matching gift company to cut a check to Direct Relief?
A: The length of time varies. If your gift is approved to be matched, your company will send Direct Relief a check for the matching gift according to their company guidelines.

Q: How do I know when my company matched my gift?
A: The most direct way to find out if your gift has been matched is to contact your company’s personnel or Human Resources department. Some companies notify their employee donors when the matching check is sent.

Q: What will happen if my gift is not approved for a match?
A: If your company does not approve the matching gift, they will either contact you or Direct Relief. If Direct Relief is contacted first, we will pass the information along to you.

Q: What if my question about matching gifts wasn’t answered here?
A: If you have another question, contact us at matching@directrelief.org

Helpful Tips:

  • Be sure to spread the word about matching gifts to fellow employees.
  • If your company does not currently match employee gifts:
    • Discuss the possibility of starting a matching gifts program with your company’s personnel or Human Resources department.
    • Investigate whether your spouse’s company matches gifts.
  • Enclose your company’s matching gift forms in your pledge envelope as soon as you can – this can help expedite the process.
  • Please keep your receipts for your records.

100 Day Campaign

Q: What is the purpose of the 100-Day Campaign?
A: The 100-Day Campaign is raising awareness about and support for safe births in the poorest areas of the world.

Q: What is a “safe birth?”
A: A safe birth means having a trained health worker present at the time of delivery equipped to assist in delivery and able to refer the mother to emergency care if needed.

Q: What does Direct Relief do to support women at delivery time?
A:Direct Relief provides midwives with kits that contain supplies, and equipment needed for safe births. The midwife kits include items like sutures, gloves, gauze, a stethoscope, a thermometer, alcohol wipes, soap, and more.

Q: What does $25 do?
A: For every $25 raised, a midwife is equipped to assist in one safe birth. Each midwife kit supports 50 safe births.

Q: Where are the midwife kits being used currently?
A: Midwife kits from Direct Relief are currently being used by midwives in Somaliland, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Nepal, and Zimbabwe. Graduates of midwife programs are presented with kits upon their successful completion of the training course.

Q: How did Direct Relief decide on the resources in the midwife kit?
A: Direct Relief worked with experienced midwives who are currently working in Africa and Asia to gather the most efficient and effective supplies to support women in areas where limited medical help is available.

Q: How do I run a Safe Birth Campaign?
A: A Safe Birth Campaign is as simple as collecting 25 cents a day for 100-days in a jar, an envelope or a box. Bring jars marked with 100-Day Campaign to your church, school, or book club. Keep a jar in your house and put a quarter in the jar every day for 100 days. At the end of the 100 days, the monies should be sent to Direct Relief to benefit the Safe Birth program.

Q: How do I register my campaign with Direct Relief?
A: Register your campaign online at DirectRelief.org by following the link to the Participate section and then to the 100-Day Campaign pages.

Q: Who do I contact with questions not answered here?
If you have any further questions, please contact us.

Clinic Partners

Q: How does Direct Relief choose its partners?
A: We identify partners through an application process that allows us to select organizations and/or projects that match Direct Relief’s capabilities and strategic goals. In order to qualify for assistance through Direct Relief, a healthcare facility or program must meet the following criteria at the outset of the application process:

  • Healthcare services must be provided to medically underserved populations in a charitable/subsidized and non-discriminatory manner.
  • Healthcare services cannot be withheld from people who are not able to pay for services.
  • Healthcare services and donated products must be supplied to patients free of charge, for a voluntary fee, or a fee based on patient’s ability to pay.
  • Healthcare services must be effectively provided by qualified healthcare providers. (Qualified health providers include practitioners who have completed specialized training or education in the diagnosis and treatment of local health conditions.)
  • Donated medical goods must be stored in a secure area.
  • Recipients or assigned consignees must have the capacity to receive and clear medical donations through secure channels.
  • There must be a match between Direct Relief’s inventory and the needs of the potential recipient.
  • The recipient must be officially registered or qualified as an approved provider of health services.

If these criteria are met, candidates are invited to submit an application for medical donation to be reviewed for selection by the Program Department.

Q: I am an individual seeking financial/medical assistance? Am I eligible?
A: Direct Relief does not provide assistance on an individual level. We sincerely apologize that we cannot do more to help you in your time of need and recommend that you consultwww.interaction.org or www.charitynavigator.org for other charities that offer individual assistance.

Q: I know of an organization I think Direct Relief can help. How may I request funding or assistance for my organization/health facility?
A: Direct Relief does not provide technical assistance or cash gifts, nor do we directly foster community projects. We recommend that you consult www.interaction.org orwww.charitynavigator.org for more information on how your organization can receive help.

Medical Supply Donation

Q: How does Direct Relief get its medical supplies?
A: Every year, more than 150 manufacturers and healthcare facilities contribute pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and equipment to support Direct Relief’s programs. Since 1948, Direct Relief has linked overabundant medical resources in the U.S. with unmet needs of charitable health facilities worldwide through Direct Relief’s Product Donations Program.

Q: Can I donate medical supplies to Direct Relief?
A: Due to California Pharmacy law, Direct Relief cannot accept medical products from individuals. If you are a manufacturer/distributor, please see the Direct Relief Network or contact Pat Bacuros at (805) 964-4767 x 153. If you are a representative from a healthcare facility (hospital, clinic, nursing home), please contact either Ashley Cooley at (805) 964-4767 x 107 or Carrie Baptista at (805) 964-4767 x 176.

Q: How does the Product Donations Program work?
A: Direct Relief is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and provides contributors with documentation for tax purposes. Direct Relief abides by the World Health Organization’s guidelines in accepting product donations. Direct Relief is a member of the Partnership for Quality Medical Donations (PQMD) and adheres to high standards in the delivery of medical products to underserved people affected by poverty and disasters around the world.
Manufacturers/Distributors: Contact Pat Bacuros at (805) 964-4767, ext. 153 or email PBacuros@directrelief.org.
Healthcare Facilities (hospitals, clinics, rest homes): Use our online contact form

Individuals: We apologize, but due to California Pharmacy law, Direct Relief cannot accept medical products from individuals.

Medical product offers are evaluated based on the specific needs of charitable health facilities and programs that Direct Relief supports worldwide. Our pharmacists on staff evaluate these specific needs and discern the appropriate medical products for a given situation.
Upon approval of donation, please provide the following information before donations are shipped:
Product Name
NDC/Product Number
Product Description
Lot Number (if available)
Expiration Dates (if any)

Incoming contributions are received and housed at Direct Relief’s warehouse in Santa Barbara. Pharmaceuticals are stored in a secure area licensed by the California State Board of Pharmacy and the Food and Drug Administration. We have licensed pharmacists and medical doctors on staff.
Medical contributions are matched with specific needs of charitable health facilities and programs worldwide.
Impact Reports are submitted to manufacturers, which identify the worldwide programs the donations are supporting.
For more information or questions regarding the appropriateness of a donation, please contact Direct Relief.

Q: How can I donate medical supplies or equipment to Direct Relief?
A: Please see our Donate Medical Product page.

Q: What donations does Direct Relief need?
A: For a specific list of items Direct Relief needs, please see Most Needed Items

Media and Images

Q: How can I get publications or a media kit from Direct Relief?
A: Please visit our Press Page for all our latest press information, kits and contact information.

Q: What is Direct Relief’s photo usage policy?
A: Direct Relief works with voluntary photographers who provide the organization with images to be used for Direct Relief publications and for its website only. We ask that you please do not reuse or copy Direct Relief’s images without permission.

Q: Where can I download the Direct Relief logo?
A: Direct Relief logos for download can be found here.

Q: How can I contact the Direct Relief communications team?
A: Media inquiries can be directed to Tony Morain, at tmorain@directrelief.org or (805) 879-4975.


Q: Can I intern or volunteer for Direct Relief?
A: Volunteers assist with a full range of administrative, clerical, research, and writing tasks, as well as in staffing special events. Currently, we are near capacity with volunteer requests, but we continually accept inquiries. Direct Relief’s volunteer opportunities exist at its warehouse and office in Santa Barbara, California. If you are interested in becoming an intern or volunteer, visit our Volunteer Page or contact us and a staff member will contact you to see how your talents might be put to use in the program. Direct Relief is unable to offer volunteer opportunities overseas or in disaster areas. We also do not coordinate accommodations.

Determine® Donation Program

Q: What is the Determine® Donation Program?
A: The Determine® Donation Program makes available Determine® HIV 1/2 rapid tests free of charge to programs aimed at preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in developing countries.

Programs participating in the Determine® Donation Program offer voluntary counseling and testing to pregnant women, identify women who are HIV positive, and determine the appropriate course of antiretroviral therapy for each patient in order to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Q: Who participates in the Determine® Donation Program?
A: Governments, NGOs and charitable organizations in 43 developing countries providing comprehensive PMTCT services have participated in the Determine® Donation Program since 2002.

Q: How do I submit an application to participate in the Determine® Donation Program?
Thank you for your interest in submitting an application to the Determine® Donation Program. However, the application process for the Determine® Donation Program is now closed.

Q: What is the Progress Report and how do I get it?

All programs participating in the Determine Donation Program are required to submit a Progress Report prior to each re-supply of Determine tests, and at minimum of one report every 12 months must be submitted. The Progress Report details how the Determine tests were used including the number of women and family members tested for HIV, the number testing HIV positive, and the number referred to treatment.

Q: What should I know about the shipping process?
A: The Determine® Donation Program covers the shipping to the designated airport of entry for each participating program. Included with each consignment is a full set of documents including the commercial air waybill, packing list, certificate of analysis, and Certificate of Donation. Each participating program is responsible for clearing the donation through customs and overseeing the transportation of the Determine® tests to the final destination. Each participating program is responsible for understanding the customs authority regulations in their respective countries and applying for any required import licenses and/or Pre-Shipment Inspection.

Q: Who operates this program?
A: Direct Relief administers the Determine® Donation Program with support from Abbott. Direct Relief is a nonprofit humanitarian medical assistance and disaster relief agency based in the United States in Santa Barbara, California. Since 1948, the organization has supported healthcare facilities and projects by supplying specifically requested and medically appropriate pharmaceuticals, supplies, nutritional supplements, and medical equipment.

Q: How can I find out more about the Determine® Donation Program?
A: If you have additional questions, please contact the Determine Donation Program Manager at DetermineDonation@DirectRelief.org

Diflucan® Partnership Program

Q: Is Diflucan® a cure for AIDS?
A: No, Diflucan® does not treat HIV/AIDS, but as an antifungal medicine it treats life-threatening opportunistic infections. In this program, Diflucan® is being donated to treat two fungal infections, cryptococcal meningitis and esophageal candidiasis, that are associated with HIV/AIDS. Diagnosis is made by a health care professional.

Q: Is this a clinical trial?
A: No. Diflucan® was approved in 1994 in the United States and has a proven record of safety and efficacy. The Diflucan® Partnership Program is a donation program.

Q: Can anyone living with HIV/AIDS use Diflucan®?
A: No. Only people who have been diagnosed with cryptococcal meningitis or esophageal candidiasis by a health care professional should be treated with Diflucan®.

Q: Will Diflucan® be provided free for vaginal candidiasis (thrush) for HIV-infected people?
A: No. Diflucan® provided by the Diflucan® Partnership Program is only for the treatment of cryptococcal meningitis and esophageal candidiasis.

Q: Are there risks associated with the use of Diflucan®?
A: There are risks associated with use of any medicine. However, it is important to understand that the Diflucan® Partnership Program is not a clinical trial. Diflucan® has been approved and has been used for over 14 years for the treatment of cryptococcal meningitis and esophageal candidiasis, and other indications.

Q: Who is eligible?
A: The Diflucan® Partnership Program is open to governments and nongovernmental organizations in all developing countries. Countries with HIV/AIDS prevalence greater than 1 percent will be given priority. The donated medicine is to be used only for HIV/AIDS patients suffering from cryptococcal meningitis and/or esophageal candidiasis.

Q: What are the costs involved?
A: The Diflucan® Partnership Program offers Diflucan® for free and will cover the shipping costs up to the airport of entry into the recipient country. All other costs including costs of the handling, taxes and duties, and distribution in the country will be the responsibility of the applicant. Diflucan® must be provided free of charge to the patient.

Q: Who is involved?
A: Pfizer Inc provides Diflucan® to Direct Relief, which reviews and approves the applications and provides the medicine to successful applicant organizations. Direct Relief manages the application as well as the resupply processes.

Q: What are the review criteria?
A: Click here to read the review criteria.

Q: How long does the review process take?
A: Within five business days of submitting your application, Direct Relief will contact you with feedback about your application. Direct Relief will work with you to clarify or amend your application if necessary. Once it meets the requirements outlined in the review criteria, Direct Relief will recommend that it be considered for approval.

Q: How will I know if my application is approved?
A: Following the review process, Direct Relief will confirm by email the approval of your application and quantity of Diflucan® to be shipped. Details concerning shipping procedures will be defined with the responsible institution.

Q:What are the logistics for receiving the donation?
A: The institution must provide the exact shipping address and other information required to send the drug to the country. After complete shipping instructions have been received by Direct Relief, the organization will be notified of the shipment schedule. The freight forwarder or the International Dispensary Association may contact the person responsible for shipping to obtain information.

The prescription and use of Diflucan® requires the donated product to be registered in the country of use. If these dosage forms and indications of Diflucan® are not registered, the applying organization must secure and provide to Direct Relief a special import license, waiver or any other documentation required by the government of the country to receive this donation of medicine.

The Diflucan® Partnership Program will offer Diflucan® for free and will cover the shipping costs up to the port of entry into the recipient country. All other costs will be the responsibility of the recipient organization including costs of handling, taxes and duties, and distribution in the country.

Q: How do I request a resupply donation?
A: Prior to resupply of Diflucan®, each organization is required to submit a progress report describing how the previous donation was used. Following submission of the progress report, each organization will be able to submit a resupply request. The Diflucan® Partnership Program reserves the right to amend this request based on information collected on the organization’s program.

Q: Who sees my information?
A: Only the application manager has access to your information and will keep it confidential. For more information, please see our privacy policy.

Q: How do I read the application and/or documents in Adobe Acrobat® (PDF) format?
A: You need the Acrobat Reader program. You can download it from Adobe’s Web site.

Q: What if I have a problem with the forms?
A: If you have trouble viewing the forms or have a technical problem with this Web site, please send an e-mail to DiflucanPartnership@directrelief.org, detailing your problem, the page and the circumstances under which you encountered it. Direct Relief will respond to your question in five working days.


Contact & Copyright

© 2001-2016 Direct Relief. All rights reserved.
Direct Relief is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.
Direct Relief
27 S. La Patera Lane
Santa Barbara, CA 93117
Phone: (805) 964-4767
Fax: (805) 681-4838
Federal Tax ID number: 95-1831116
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