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 humanitarian organization, active in more than 80 countries and all 50 U.S. states, with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies. Nongovernmental, nonsectarian, and not-for-profit, Direct Relief provides assistance to people and communities without regard to politics, religious beliefs, or ethnic identities. Direct Relief’s assistance programs focus on maternal and child health, the prevention and treatment of disease, and emergency preparedness and response, and are tailored to the particular circumstances and needs of the world’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations. This tradition of direct and targeted assistance, provided in a manner that respects and involves the people served, has been a hallmark of the organization since its founding in 1948 by refugee war immigrants to the U.S.

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. For the full history, please see the History Page.

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: Why is the Direct Relief Foundation separate?
A: The Direct Relief Foundation was established in 2007 after a 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: Is my contribution tax-deductible?

A: Direct Relief is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and 100% of contributions are 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: Does Direct Relief sell, rent or trade donor information to other agencies?
A: No. Direct Relief does not rent or trade donor information to other agencies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.