Donation Policies

Unlike many other nonprofit organizations, Direct Relief does not rely on any funding from government grants. Support comes entirely from private individuals, associations, foundations, and businesses who entrust Direct Relief with resources so that it can fulfill its humanitarian mission.

Direct Relief’s donation policy ensures that 100 percent of all designated contributions for specific programs or emergency responses are used only on expenses related to supporting that program or response.

All fundraising costs are absorbed by the organization to honor the intent of donors who restricted their contributions while ensuring disaster victims receive the fullest measure of assistance possible.

By clarifying that Direct Relief may use your contribution wherever most needed, you allow the organization to strengthen the long-term health systems that are vital to vulnerable people around the world and respond to emergencies that do not receive widespread attention. Direct Relief commits to spend your money in the most productive, efficient way possible.

If you wish to restrict the use of your donation only for a specific purpose or area, Direct Relief will honor that wish or tell you that it cannot and offer to return your contribution. Direct Relief has not and will not collect money for what may appear to be a specific incident or purpose with the intention of using it for other purposes.

Have a question about donating? Contact us for answers.

How is Funding for Emergencies Handled?

Direct Relief’s policy ensures that 100 percent of all designated contributions for specific programs or emergency responses are used only on expenses related to supporting that program or response.

This policy applies to all of Direct Relief’s disaster responses, including responses to Hurricanes Maria, Harvey, and Irma, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina, and Rita, and earthquakes in Ecuador, 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 have the ability to communicate their intention regarding a gift, Direct Relief’s online donation page allows people to provide instruction for how a donation is to be allocated among Direct Relief’s various program activities, including specific emergencies. 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 instruction to restrict the gift for particular program activities.

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.

No Emergency 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 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.

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