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 Nepal earthquake, Direct Relief wishes to note its policy regarding donor-designated contributions as it has done in previous high-profile emergencies (such as the Ebola crisis, Typhoon Haiyan, Hurricane Sandy, 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 the Nepal earthquake is simple: Direct Relief will use all contributions designated for the Nepal Earthquake solely for relief and recovery efforts related to the Nepal Earthquake.
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 drop-down menu that includes “Nepal Earthquake” as the first item among several other particular activities or areas where 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 an “earthquake” or “Nepal” 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 Nepal Earthquake Funds
An internal fund is created with all designated contributions, and all expenditures related to the Nepal earthquake 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 Nepal Earthquake Funds are Used for Fundraising Expenses
100 percent of Direct Relief’s fundraising expenses are paid by a bequest. This means that no portion of any Nepal earthquake contribution (or any other contribution) will be used for fundraising purposes.
What Restricted Funds May be Used For
Nepal earthquake contributions will be used only for Nepal earthquake-related programmatic costs and administrative expenses directly related to the earthquake 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 earthquake relief-assistance functions. Directly related administrative expenses include credit-card processing fees associated with the receipt of Nepal earthquake contributions; accounting fees associated with managing Nepal earthquake funds; postage related to issuing receipts to Nepal earthquake donors; banking fees related to wire transfers of Nepal earthquake donations; warehousing and packaging of medical material; and IT support costs that are necessary to conduct Nepal earthquake-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 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, including, obviously, in this instance with regard to Nepal earthquake 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.