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Direct Relief Gives CharityWatch Specifics About Its Humanitarian Efforts For Ukrainians

   Mar 09, 2022

CharityWatch is becoming increasingly concerned that some charities are getting in on the fundraising opportunity created by the conflict in Ukraine without a clear idea of how they will spend the donations they receive on relief efforts. This is a problem for two primary reasons:

1) Donors who respond to solicitations for donations to provide aid in a humanitarian crisis most often want their donations to be used to ease suffering now, not for some unknown purpose at some future date.

2) Charities that are unclear about how they can help, or that have no experience providing aid in Ukraine or in conflict zones in general, may be siphoning resources away from organizations that are actively providing boots-on-the-ground humanitarian assistance to suffering people right now. 

CharityWatch reached out to several Top-Rated organizations soliciting donations for Ukrainian relief efforts with hard-hitting questions about the amount of donations they have collected so far and how they are using them. We reached out to Direct Relief & Direct Relief Foundation. The charity responded on Friday, March 4th, 2022. This is what we found: 

Q: How much has Direct Relief raised so far?

A. "As of March 3, 2022, Direct Relief has received approximately $2 million in cash support for its response to the conflict in Ukraine. This does not include pledges. Just donations we've received."

Q. Does Direct Relief have a dollar target for the amount of donations it plans to raise to provide aid related to the conflict in Ukraine? If so, will it stop fundraising for this conflict once it has reached this target?

A. "It's too early to gauge how long this crisis will last; however, if there were a ceasefire today, the damage done to date would still constitute a major humanitarian crisis that would take years to recover from. For instance, at least three hospitals have been destroyed and others are damaged -- a major blow to the health system." [This response was received by CharityWatch on Friday, March 4, 2022].

"Estimates are that this will end in weeks or months at the soonest."

"As such, it's too early to establish any threshold -- other than to say that health infrastructure has already sustained hundreds of millions of dollars in damages."

Q. What aid is your organization already actively providing in the region related to this conflict? 

A. "One week before the conflict broke out, Direct Relief delivered $5.4 million worth of medicines and supplies to a longstanding Ukrainian nonprofit partner that serves hospitals, ambulance stations, and medical centers. Over the past six months, the organization has provided more than $27 million in medical aid to both local NGOs and the Ukrainian Ministry of Health."

"An initial shipment of 360 emergency medical backpacks was delivered to the Ukraine Ministry of Health this week, and another 100 departed for Ukraine today." [This response was provided by Direct Relief on March 4, 2022]. 

"These packs include a wide range of urgently requested medical supplies, antibiotics, Combat Application Tourniquets, bandages, sutures, and critical care medicines."

"Direct Relief is also providing an initial cache [of] 450 high-flow oxygen concentrators, as the country is facing a stock-out of medical grade oxygen. 50 concentrators were included on today's humanitarian shipment. The other 400 are being procured in Europe and shipped directly to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health."  [This response was provided by Direct Relief on March 4, 2022]. 

Q. Does Direct Relief have plans to expand upon the humanitarian aid it is already providing?

A. "Direct Relief is in the planning stages of chartering a humanitarian aircraft filled with medications requested by the Ukrainian Ministry of Health. Direct Relief is also exploring feasibility of a medical distribution warehouse in Poland."

"Direct Relief currently contracts a warehouse in the Netherlands, but a more forward situation hub has the potential to streamline humanitarian logistics, especially as we anticipate rapidly scaling up humanitarian shipments."

"Other deliveries of medical resources are currently being coordinated with vendors of oxygen concentrators in Europe and leading international and Ukraine-based diabetes organizations to ensure the supply of insulin for people with diabetes."

"Direct Relief is working with healthcare manufacturers of essential medical products to facilitate donations. These donations are intended for Ukrainians affected by conflict., whether they are still in the country or have fled to one of the neighboring nations receiving refugees."

Q. If at some future date Direct Relief has completed its operations related to providing aid in this conflict and still has funds left over that people donated specifically for this purpose, what is your organization's policy or plans for how such funds will be used?

A. "Direct Relief's donation policy ensures that all designated contributions for specific programs or emergency responses are used only on expenses related to supporting the program or response."

"Funds will be spent on the immediate response in Ukraine, but also on related longer-term health issues that will result from the crisis, including assisting with the large refugee populations settling in neighboring countries as a direct result of this conflict."

"Humanitarian crises invariably lead to a wide range of health problems. These include an increase in infectious diseases -- in Ukraine HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, polio, and Covid-19 are particular concerns, especially since oxygen shortage is a serious problem in the country. Loss of chronic care medications frequently leads to acute, life-threatening health crises."

"In addition, maternal health care and vital services are disrupted. The trauma of conflict has significant consequences for people's mental health."

"Drawing on its extensive history of humanitarian response, Direct Relief is preparing to support overwhelmed health systems working to care for these impacts, as more information becomes available."

"Put simply, Direct Relief will spend all funds exclusively on efforts that support people affected directly by this crisis."

Q. Can you provide any information about how much money Direct Relief has spent so far providing aid related to this conflict?

A. "A rough estimate is that we've already spent $1,042,500 -- more than 50% of what's been received so far for this crisis." [This response was provided by Direct Relief on March 4, 2022]. 

That includes:

  • $312,500 - procure and provide 250 high-flow oxygen concentrators
  • $230,000 - procure and provide 460 emergency response backpacks
  • $100,000 - in-country operational funding
  • $400,000 -  allocated for initial humanitarian supply charter flights

Why Is Direct Relief (& Direct Relief Foundation) Top-Rated by CharityWatch?

CharityWatch analyzed the consolidated audited financial statements and IRS tax Forms 990 for Direct Relief & Direct Relief Foundation. Read more here about the important reason why CharityWatch analyzes a charity's audit along with the tax filings of its related entities prior to computing its rating. 

Direct Relief: Tax ID 95-1831116 

Direct Relief Foundation: Tax ID 20-5983698 

As part of this process, we segregated the cash donations and expenses the charity received and spent from the non-cash (in-kind) donations of goods and services (such as donated pharmaceuticals, including those that had expired before use; donated freight; and other supplies) it received and distributed so that we can give donors a clearer picture of how efficiently it used its cash donations.

Rating: A

Program %: 82%

Cost to Raise Each $100 of Cash Support: $2

CharityWatch has been rating Direct Relief for more than a decade and it has consistently received financial efficiency ratings from CharityWatch that fall into the B-range or above on our "A+ to F" rating scale. CharityWatch will schedule an update of our rating of Direct Relief & Direct Relief Foundation based on its fiscal 2021 consolidated audited financial statements and IRS Forms 990 once complete information becomes available. 

Transparency: Direct Relief meets CharityWatch's benchmarks for Transparency. It posts a copy of its most current audited financial statements on its website, and has responded to our questions about its financial reporting (if any) necessary for CharityWatch to complete a meaningful analysis. 

Governance: CharityWatch reviewed the IRS Form 990 for Direct Relief to see if it reports having certain policies in place (Conflict of Interest, Whistleblower, Document Retention) and a sufficiently independent board of directors. We also reviewed the consolidated audited financial statements of Direct Relief to determine if any governance issues were identified by the charity's auditors that were required to be reported under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Direct Relief meets CharityWatch's governance benchmarks.

 See CharityWatch's complete profile of Direct Relief & Direct Relief Foundation

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