Direct Relief

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Direct Relief
Direct Relief logo2013.png
Founded August 23, 1948 [1]
Founder William Zimdin and Dezso Karczag
Type Humanitarian Medical Aid [1]
Focus Healthcare
Key people Thomas Tighe, Bhupi Singh [1]
Employees 60 full-time, 9 part-time[2]
Volunteers Over 400[2]
Slogan 'Deliver a World of Good'

Direct Relief (formerly known as Direct Relief International) is a nonprofit organization based in Goleta, California that focuses on improving the quality of life by bringing critically needed medicines and supplies to local healthcare providers worldwide.[3] Founded in 1948, Direct Relief International is one of two charities ranked by Forbes that has received a perfect fundraising efficiency score for five consecutive years and is ranked by the Chronicle of Philanthropy as California's largest international nonprofit organization based on private support.[4]

The organization is headed by President and CEO Thomas Tighe, who came into the position in October 2000, a 34-member Board of Directors, and an 11-member International Advisory Board. In the United States, it is classified by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.[5]


In Fiscal Year 2014, Direct Relief provided $392 million in public support through medical material assistance and targeted cash grants 223 million defined daily doses through 5,552 deliveries weighing 1,550 tons and taking up 267,342 cubic feet to 70 countries worldwide. With $0 of contributions spent on administration or fundraising, $49 was leveraged in medical material aid (wholesale) for every $1 spent.[6]


Since its inception, Direct Relief has provided appropriate and specifically requested medical resources to community-based institutions and organizations in over 140 countries including the United States. Direct Relief ensures a donor’s intent is honored by using 100 percent of the donor’s contribution for programmatic work.


Direct Relief currently works with over 300 partner clinics, hospitals, associations, and organizations in 59 countries (as of 2008), spanning five continents, with an emphasis on people living in developing countries and people victimized by disaster or war. In 2007, Direct Relief provided $136 million in direct aid through medical material assistance and targeted cash grants providing 34.8 million courses of treatment in 59 countries.[7] Since 1948, Direct Relief International has linked over-abundant medical resources in the U.S. with unmet needs of charitable health facilities worldwide. In FY 2007, over 100 manufacturers, distributors, and many healthcare facilities contributed pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and equipment worth over $200 million to support these unmet needs.[8]


Since 2004 Direct Relief has delivered support to at-risk patients living in the United States on an ongoing basis and during times of emergency. As the first and only nonprofit accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 states, Direct Relief has provided $350 million in medicines and supplies to U.S. clinics since 2004.[6] Direct Relief's safety-net clinic program works to deliver medicine and supplies to the growing group of uninsured Americans through supporting clinics and health centers treating working-poor patients who would otherwise go without care or pay high, non-negotiated rates for their medicines. Direct Relief's U.S. partner network now comprises more than 1,100 ongoing relationships with health centers and clinics across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.[9]

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 spurred Direct Relief to expand its Hurricane Preparedness Program, which equips clinics and health centers in vulnerable Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast states, as well as Caribbean countries. Instituted in 2007, this program delivers medical aid to treat patients for an extended period should a hurricane hit. If not needed during hurricane season, the materials can be absorbed into the health facility's regular patient care.[10]

In its home county of Santa Barbara, Direct Relief sponsors the annual Healthy Smiles Dental Program. The program aims to improve the oral health of low-income, uninsured and at-risk children and families in the community by providing them free dental treatment, comprehensive oral health kits, and oral health education. Through Healthy Smiles, over 60,000 children each year receive a dental kit and instruction, and approximately 120 children in Santa Barbara County each year receive a full range of dental treatment, from cleanings to tooth extractions. The children and their parents also receive instruction in English and Spanish on proper brushing and flossing technique, as well as the importance of a good diet.[11]

Direct Relief also works with 50 other Santa Barbara organizations to assemble personal hygiene care packs for approximately 14,000 homeless families, home-bound individuals, and others in need of assistance. Since 2004, Direct Relief has provided over $100 million in cash, prescription medicines, and medical and dental supplies to serve low-income, uninsured patients receiving care at over 100 clinics in California.[11]

Disaster relief[edit]

2004 Indian Ocean tsunami[edit]

Since December 2004, Direct Relief has furnished over $59.5 million in direct aid to tsunami-affected areas, including $46 million in medical material aid and an infusion of financial resources totaling $13.7 million. Direct Relief had supplied 4.6 million courses of treatment of specifically requested medicines, supplies, and medical equipment provided through 68 shipments to India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Somalia since the incident. In December 2007 Direct Relief announced a $100,000 grant to support maternal and child health in Indonesia through a renewed partnership with Yayasan Bumi Sehat, an Indonesian non-profit organization. Bumi Sehat focuses on providing reproductive, maternal, and child health for displaced, marginalized, and low-income populations. [12]

2005 Kashmir earthquake[edit]

Further information: 2005 Kashmir earthquake

Since 2005, Direct Relief has provided $8.7 million in aid to victims of the Pakistan Earthquake. Of that aid, $7.5 million came in the form of medical resources that were specifically requested by end user health professionals. The remaining $1.1 million was distributed to 12 clinics, hospitals, associations, and organizations throughout the region in the form of targeted cash grants to improve health care infrastructure. In 2007, Direct Relief made two recent cash grants totaling $95,000 to groups dedicated to providing care to earthquake-affected communities.

Direct Relief has provided $50,000 to helped the Pakistan Institute of Prosthetic and Orthotic Sciences (PIPOS) expand their services to include rehabilitation for people who have suffered spinal cord injuries and were paralyzed from the earthquake.[13]

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita[edit]

Further information: Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita

Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Direct Relief became highly involved in relief work in the region, providing $47 million in assistance to more than 100 healthcare partners throughout the Gulf Coast, consisting of $42.4 million (wholesale) in medical material aid and $4.6 million in targeted cash grants as of August 2007.[14] The organization has continued to support affected communities with material aid and cash grants, and states that it plans to be active along the Gulf Coast for the long term of the recovery.[15]

2007 Peru earthquake[edit]

Further information: 2007 Peru earthquake

Since the earthquake hit in August 2007, Direct Relief has provided more than $200,000 in medical material aid on the ground. The aid consisted of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, intravenous solutions, as well as protective facial masks. In addition, Direct Relief provided personal care products, sutures, iodine tablets for water purification,blankets, and nebulizers with albuterol medication for asthmatics and people with other breathing difficulties. The contents were specifically requested by Direct Relief's Peruvian partners and will be consigned to the Archdiocese of Lima, which has launched extensive relief efforts in response to the quake and also is attempting to assist people who are suffering from the severe cold snap in the interior mountain regions.[16]

October 2007 California wildfires[edit]

Direct Relief was one of the main providers of medical emergency supplies in response to the Southern California fires. Since their outbreak in October 2007, Direct Relief has distributed 71 relief shipments – including over 80,000 masks that were distributed to local residents and emergency personnel – valued at $1.4 million (wholesale). All of these shipments contained materials specifically requested by first responders and area medical clinics. On December 19, Direct Relief presented $400,000 to the Council of Community Clinics on behalf of their 17 San Diego County member clinics for the outstanding services they provided during the wildfires.[17]

2007–2008 Kenyan crisis[edit]

Further information: 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis

In response to severe humanitarian problems that have arisen in the most recent flare-up of violence in Naivasha, Nakuru and Limuru, Direct Relief is providing an additional $50,000 in emergency funds. Since the onset of civil strife in Kenya in 2007, Direct Relief has issued emergency funds of $100,000 and is sending emergency health kit with antibiotics, antifungals, antiseptic, wound care supplies, and sutures to partner OGRA Foundation. Direct Relief has provided air freighted shipments of wide-ranging antibiotics, wound care supplies, oral rehydration solutions, and anti-hypertensive drugs since the violence began.[18]

2010 Haiti Earthquake[edit]

Further information: 2010 Haiti Earthquake

Three years after the earthquake that took a quarter of a million lives and left millions more injured and homeless, Direct Relief has been among the largest providers of medical material aid to Haiti, which continues to build back and faces huge challenges. Direct Relief’s in-country network and distribution system now supports over 115 health facilities throughout the country with essential medical resources to care for patients. Direct Relief has provided 1,000 tons of life-saving medicines and medical supplies valued at over $90 million (wholesale) to health facilities throughout the country caring for patients.[19]

2011 Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, Nuclear Disaster[edit]

On March 11, 2011, the magnitude-9.0 Tohoku Earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear disaster struck northern Japan, killing over 16,000 people and leaving an estimated 3,000 missing. More than 5,400 people were injured and over 34,000 evacuated. Immediately following the disaster, Direct Relief and the Japanese American Citizen’s League (JACL) established the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund, committing 100% of all contributions to be used exclusively to help people in Japan in the most productive, efficient manner possible. Consistent with both organizations’ missions, the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund has been used exclusively to support local Japanese organizations responding to the disaster. All contributions received for the Fund have been used exclusively to help people in Japan, supporting local Japanese organizations caring for the most vulnerable people affected by the earthquake and tsunami, with special focus on people with disabilities and those who are elderly. Local organizations are the first responders, have the most at stake, and will be there long after the headlines fade.[20]

2012 Hurricane Sandy[edit]

Further information: Hurricane Sandy

On October 25, 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba, taking 72 lives and affecting approximately 5 million people. As Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on October 29, it collided with an already powerful winter storm system, creating a “super storm.” Using analytics and mapping software from technology partners, Palantir and Esri, Direct Relief was able to better understand needs on the ground and deploy appropriate resources to those areas. Beginning with preparedness activities driven by social vulnerability and health risk analysis, and extending through meteorological investigations, rapid scrutiny of shipping histories and continual monitoring of clinic status, shelters, pharmacies, and power outages within a common framework, Direct Relief connects clinics with essential medical resources by using the best insights available to assess needs, scale problems and track the rapid pace of events.[21]

2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan Philippines Relief[edit]

Further information: Typhoon Haiyan

Super Typhoon Haiyan (locally-known as Yolanda) battered the Philippines on Nov. 8 with torrential rains and winds reaching reaching nearly 200 mph – equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane. Direct Relief has been able to provide enough medical aid to great more than 500,000 people. In addition, Direct Relief has assisted with the reconstruction and re-equipping of Typhoon-damaged health stations, and funded the training of community health workers in remote regions to help vulnerable people access quality health services. Direct Relief received $5 million in cash contributions and nearly $14 million in contributed medications, medical supplies, nutritional products, and services.Consistent with the Direct Relief policy, 100 percent of contributions received for Typhoon Haiyan have been used to assist people in the Philippines affected by the typhoon.[22]

2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa[edit]

In response to the world’s deadliest Ebola epidemic to date, Direct Relief has mobilized resources for affected areas and continues working to ensure medical responders on the frontlines of the outbreak have the medicines and supplies they need to contain the epidemic, most importantly personal protective equipment. Direct Relief’s policy regarding designated contributions for Ebola response activities reads, "Direct Relief will use all contributions designated for 'Ebola Relief' directly for relief and recovery efforts related to the Ebola Crisis." [23]

On September 20, 2014, Direct Relief chartered a 747 filled with 100 tons of supplies for Ebola-hit regions. Valued at $6 million, the cargo of 2.8 million surgical and exam gloves, 170,000 coverall gowns, 120,000 masks, 40,000 liters of pre-mixed oral rehydration solution, and 9.8 million doses of essential medications was the largest single emergency shipment to date from the U.S. to the region.[24]

Rankings and efficiency[edit]

Over the past year, Direct Relief again has received among the highest ratings of any U.S. nonprofit from the American Institute of Philanthropy ("A"), Charity Navigator ("four stars"), the Chronicle of Philanthropy ("California's largest International charity"), and Forbes ("100% fundraising efficiency").Direct Relief also remains a member of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.[25] According to their web site, each dollar spent by the organization is able to generate between $21 and $35 (wholesale value) of medical material specifically requested by in-country health professionals to care for patients. In 2006, Direct Relief received an unanticipated and unrestricted bequest of more than $34 million from the estate of a longtime donor, Mr. H. Guy DiStefano. This gift will cover 100 percent of its traditionally low administrative and fundraising expenses, and allow Direct Relief to contribute $0 of donated funds to administrative/overhead costs.[26]

The most recent evaluations and rankings of Direct Relief include:

Forbes – In the magazine's annual evaluation of America's leading nonprofit organizations, Forbes recognized Direct Relief for the fifth consecutive year as one of only two nonprofit organizations in the United States that has been 100% efficient in fundraising over those years.[27]

Charity Navigator - Since 2007, Direct Relief has been named a "Four Star Charity" by Charity Navigator, the group's highest ranking awarded to charities.[1] Direct Relief was also cited as one of the "10 of the Best Charities Everyone's Heard Of" and had the lowest percentage of funds spent on administrative and fundraising costs of the ten charities named. [27]

Better Business Bureau - Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance has noted Direct Relief's efficiency and found that Direct Relief meets the "Standards for Charity Accountability".[27]

Chronicle of Philanthropy - Direct Relief ranked within the top 25 international charities listed in "The Philanthropy 400" while making its seventh straight appearance in the overall list, which ranks U.S. charities by amount of private support.[27]

Consumers Digest - In its December 2006 issue, ranked Direct Relief the eighth most efficient charity in America with a program spending efficiency of 99.1 percent. Direct Relief ranked 13th overall in the cost to raise $100 and 17th in the amount of direct public support with nearly $220 million.[27]

Nonprofit Times - In its November 2006 issue, named Direct Relief the "Biggest Mover" of 2006, as the organization moved from 100 to 53 in the year's "NPT 100" charity rankings.[27]


  1. ^ a b c d e Charity Navigator - Direct Relief, retrieved 10/3/2014
  2. ^ a b About Us, retrieved 5/5/2008
  3. ^ About, retrieved 5/5/2008
  4. ^ Forbes - Direct Relief, retrieved 10/3/2014
  5. ^ Frequently Asked Questions, retrieved 10/3/2014
  6. ^ a b FY 2013 Annual Report, retrieved 10/3/2014
  7. ^ Where We Work, retrieved 5/5/2008
  8. ^ About Us|Who Supports Us, retrieved 5/5/2008
  9. ^ Where We Work/US, retrieved 7/28/11
  10. ^ Emergency Prep and Response, retrieved 10/2/14
  11. ^ a b Where We Work/US, retrieved 10/2/14
  12. ^ Indian Ocean Tsunami Emergency Response, retrieved 5/5/2008
  13. ^ 2005 Pakistan Earthquake Emergency Response, retrieved 5/5/2008
  14. ^ Hurricanes Emergency Response, retrieved 5/5/2008
  15. ^ Ibid
  16. ^ 2007 Peru Earthquake, retrieved 5/5/2008
  17. ^ Southern California Fires, retrieved 5/5/2007
  18. ^ Civil Strife in Kenya, retrieved 5/5/2007
  19. ^ Haiti Relief and Recovery, retrieved 10/3/2014
  20. ^ 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief, retrieved 10/3/2014
  21. ^ 2012 Hurricane Sandy Relief and Recovery, retrieved 10/3/2014
  22. ^ [1], retrieved 10/3/2014
  23. ^ [2], retrieved 10/3/2014
  24. ^ CGI Members, Direct Relief Ship Medical Supplies to Fight Ebola, retrieved 10/3/2014
  25. ^ Finances, retrieved 5/5/2007
  26. ^ Press Release, retrieved 5/5/2007
  27. ^ a b c d e f Recognitions, retrieved 5/5/2008

External links[edit]