Statement Regarding Donations for Emergencies


Direct Relief has adopted a strict policy to ensure that 100 percent of all designated contributions (e.g. donations for the “Nepal earthquake relief”) are used only on expenses related to supporting that program response. The policies exist for all of Direct Relief’s disaster responses, including responses to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina and Rita, and earthquakes in Nepal, Japan, Haiti, Pakistan, Peru, China, and Chile.

Direct Relief believes this is appropriate for honoring precisely the clear intent of generous donors who responded to these tragedies and to preserve the maximum benefit for the survivors for whose benefit the funds were entrusted to Direct Relief.

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 menu that allows the donor to select 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 notation in the check memo line or accompanying correspondence also will be considered as an instruction to restrict the gift for this particular response effort.

Detailed Accounting for Emergency Funds: An internal fund is created with all designated contributions, and all expenditures related to emergency 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.

Emergency 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 emergency contribution (or any other contribution) will be used for fundraising purposes.

What Restricted Funds May be Used For: Emergency contributions will be used only for emergency-related programmatic costs and administrative expenses directly related to the emergency response 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 emergency relief-assistance functions. Directly-related administrative expenses include credit-card processing fees associated with the receipt of emergency contributions; accounting fees associated with managing emergency funds; postage related to issuing receipts to emergency donors; banking fees related to wire transfers of emergency donations; warehousing and packaging of medical material; and IT support costs that are necessary to conduct emergency-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. 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. 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.

  1. Thank you for all you are doing. I just sent a message to your info-desk. I am interested in organizing a fundraising to raise money specifically for pregnant and lactating women/maternal and newborn care for the women of the Tacloban region of the Philippines. Is this something that your organization can help direct the funds for? I appreciate all you do for maternal and newborn care around the world. Regarding relief aid to the Philippines, I am most worried about the money going into the wrong hands. Thank you for your attention. ~Aimee Guerrero O’Brien

  2. fountainhead Institute of Management and Technology, Fountainhead Medical Team would love to know how they can partner with your organization

  3. Good to know that there’s a lot of ways to help the Typhoon Haiyan survivors. We hope that the world will continue helping the survivors of the typhoon in the best way they can do. In addition to this, here’s a proposal of our project, “TACLOB” (here’s the link -> which is about creating livelihood for these survivors. We hope you’ll learn more about our initiative and help us support the Tacloban survivors. God bless us all!