Direct Relief relies on charitable contributions to conduct humanitarian assistance throughout the United States and globally. In the outpouring of generosity and offers of assistance in the aftermath of catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan, Direct Relief wishes to note its policy regarding donor-designated contributions as it has done in previous high-profile emergencies (such as Hurricane Sandy last year, the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake) that also have generated significant financial support.
Direct Relief’s policy regarding designated contributions for Typhoon Haiyan is simple: Direct Relief will use all contributions designated for “Typhoon Relief” or “Typhoon Haiyan” solely for relief and recovery efforts related to the Typhoon.
Direct Relief practices have long recognized the importance of enabling donors to communicate their intentions regarding donations and explaining how the organization carefully accounts for and uses designated contributions to honor the donors’ intentions. Direct Relief takes several steps to ensure that both donors’ intentions and the organization’s use of contributions are clear.
Ensuring Donor Intent: To ensure that donors communicate their intention regarding a gift, we note that Direct Relief’s online donation page requires that donors consider the options of “wherever needed most” or to designate their gifts by choosing from a dropdown menu that includes “Typhoon Haiyan Relief” as the first item among several other particular activities or areas in which Direct Relief works and to which donors may also elect to restrict their gift. Other methods of contributions, such as by check or wire transfer that include a “typhoon” or “Haiyan” or similar notation in the check memo line or accompanying correspondence also will be considered as instruction to restrict the gift for this particular response effort.
Detailed Accounting for Typhoon Funds: An internal fund is created with all designated contributions, and all expenditures related to the typhoon response are recorded for both internal management and external reporting purposes. Independently audited financial statements are prepared and published annually, but Direct Relief will share current information on its website as events unfold regarding programmatic activities and expenditures.
No Typhoon Funds are Used for Fundraising Expenses: 100% of Direct Relief’s fundraising expenses are paid by a bequest. This means that no portion of any Typhoon contribution (or any other contribution) will be used for fundraising purposes.
What Restricted Funds May be Used For: Typhoon contributions will be used only for typhoon-related programmatic costs and administrative expenses directly related to the typhoon activity. Programmatic costs include those related to purchasing, storing, transporting, and distributing essential medical material to affected areas and the costs of programmatic staff and related travel for typhoon relief-assistance functions. Directly-related administrative expenses include credit-card processing fees associated with the receipt of typhoon contributions; accounting fees associated with managing typhoon funds; postage related to issuing receipts to typhoon donors; banking fees related to wire transfers of typhoon donations; warehousing and packaging of medical material; and IT support costs that are necessary to conduct typhoon-related programmatic activity (such as inventory management of medical material being provided in the relief effort).
General, unrestricted financial support is essential for Direct Relief to fulfill any of its deeply compelling humanitarian activities, including being able to respond rapidly to any emergency as the organization has done in Typhoon Haiyan. Such unrestricted contributions always are needed, deeply appreciated, and enable Direct Relief to assist people in many places and situations that do not make the news.
However, Direct Relief is obligated to – and will always – honor the intent of a donor-designated financial contribution, including, obviously, in this instance with regard to Typhoon Haiyan contributions. If a donor were to make a clearly restricted gift for a purpose or with a restriction that Direct Relief is not able to fulfill or comply with, Direct Relief will advise the donor of this situation and inquire if other uses may be permitted. In the event that a donor’s intent cannot be met by Direct Relief, the organization would offer to direct the gift to another nonprofit that would be able to fulfill the donor’s intent or return the gift.