Samaritan's Purse

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Samaritan's Purse
Samaritan's Purse.gif
Founded 1970
Founder Bob Pierce
Type Faith-based
Focus Crisis relief & development
Area served
Method Direct aid
Program funding
> US$300,000,000[1]

Samaritan's Purse is an evangelical Christian humanitarian organization that provides aid to people in physical need as a key part of Christian missionary work. The organization’s president is Franklin Graham, son of Christian evangelist Billy Graham. The name of the organization is based on the New Testament Parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus uses a parable to teach people one form of the Golden Rule; "love your neighbor as yourself".

Samaritan’s Purse works in more than 100 countries around the world. International headquarters are in Boone, North Carolina, with additional U.S. facilities in Charlotte and North Wilkesboro, N.C. Affiliate offices are in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Hong Kong, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Field offices are located in some 20 countries across five continents.


Bob Pierce founded Samaritan’s Purse in 1970 with a vision “to meet emergency needs in crisis areas through existing evangelical mission agencies and national churches.” Pierce had previously founded World Vision in 1950.[2]

Franklin Graham met Pierce in 1973, and they made several trips together to visit relief projects and missionary partners in Asia and elsewhere. Graham became president of Samaritan's Purse in 1979 following Pierce’s death in 1978.[3]

As the organization grew, Samaritan’s Purse not only funded mission partners but also began to develop its own large-scale relief projects:[citation needed]

Current activities[edit]

The organization's medical mission in Liberia, West Africa, was one of only two medical NGOs active in Liberia during the beginning of the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Samaritan's Purse and SIM USA both have been actively engaged in treating the recent outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Liberia. On August 1, 2014, the organization announced that it was evacuating 60 nonessential personnel from Liberia. Dr. Kent Brantly, a Texas-based doctor working for the organization, was the first U.S. Citizen to contract the Ebola virus in Liberia while treating the disease. He arrived in the United States on Saturday, August 2, and was treated and subsequently released after nearly three weeks in a special isolation unit of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.[4][5][6][7]

Mission statement[edit]

The organization's mission statement states that the organization seeks to meet the spiritual and physical needs of people suffering from war, poverty, disaster, disease, and famine, with the purpose of global missionary work attendant on humanitarian aid. The organization aims at service for the church worldwide to propagate "the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ".[8]

Samaritan’s Purse seeks to specialize in emergency relief, shelter, water and sanitation, food and nutrition, medical care and public health, HIV/AIDS, and community-based livestock and livelihood projects.

Ongoing programs[edit]

Samaritan’s Purse includes several ongoing ministries.

  • Operation Christmas Child – created in 1990 by Dave Cooke and his wife Gill for children in Romania. Each November thousands of churches, groups and individual donors prepare and collect shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies, personal items, and other small gifts. An evangelising booklet is also often included. These boxes are then distributed overseas by volunteers.[9] As of April 2013, over 100 million boxes have been delivered.[10]
  • Disaster Relief responds to emergency situations.
  • World Medical Mission, the medical arm of Samaritan’s Purse, was founded in 1977 by brothers Dr. Richard Furman and Dr. Lowell Furman to enable doctors to serve short-term assignments at overwhelmed missionary hospitals.
  • Children’s Heart Project provides surgery for children born with heart defects in countries where proper care is not available.
  • Turn on the Tap is a campaign to provide safe drinking water in the developing world.


In the fiscal year ending December 2012, Samaritan’s Purse generated over $376 million. Of that amount, 89.3 percent goes directly to projects; 4.3 percent is used for administrative support; and 6.2 percent is spent on fundraising. The organization has received a 4 star rating (out of 4 stars) from the monitoring organization Charity Navigator.[11]

2011 lawsuit[edit]

In 2010 Flavia Wagner and two Sudanese men were kidnapped while working for Samaritan's Purse in Sudan. The two men were released promptly but Wagner was held for three months. Upon her return to the US Wagner sued Samaritan's Purse and their security contractor, Clayton Consultants, a hostage negotiation consultancy owned by Triple Canopy, accusing the organization "of failing to train its security personnel adequately and of willfully ignoring warning signs that abductions were a threat to foreigners." The organization settled out of court in March 2012.[12][13]


In March 2001, The New York Times reported that Samaritan's Purse had "blurred the line between church and state" in the way it had distributed publicly funded aid to victims of the El Salvador earthquake. Residents from several villages stated they first had to sit through a half-hour prayer meeting before receiving assistance.[14] In a statement, USAID said Samaritan's Purse had not violated federal guidelines, but emphasized the need for the organization to "maintain adequate and sufficient separation" between prayer sessions and publicly funded activities.[15]

In 2003, Samaritan's Purse was widely criticized within the United Kingdom after its president, Franklin Graham, stated that Islam is a "very evil and wicked religion",[16][17] leading to opposition campaigns within the United Kingdom by Islamic leaders.[18] Samaritan's Purse responded to accusations of being anti-Islamic by highlighting their long history of non-denominational co-operation and charity work in Baghdad without attempting to preach or proselytize.[19]

Franklin Graham drew scrutiny in 2009 for drawing a full-time salary from Samaritan's Purse, while at the same time receiving a full-time salary from Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). This was called into question after his 2008 compensation from both organizations totaled $1.2 million. (Most of this was the result of a new IRS rule that required him to re-report deferred retirement contributions that had already been reported over the previous three years.[20]) Some experts on non-profits have questioned whether one person can perform two full-time jobs leading organizations that employ hundreds and spend hundreds of millions around the world.[21] In response to the questions about his compensation, Graham decided to give up his salary from BGEA, stating his calling to the ministry "was never based on compensation." He also had contributions to his retirement plans suspended until the economy bounced back.[22] However, Graham was again criticized in 2015 when it was revealed he had again taken up his salary from BGEA, and that his annual compensation was significantly higher than that of CEO's of similar but much larger non-profit organisations [23]

The Samaritan's Purse project Operation Christmas Child has also been criticized in several countries, most notably in the UK,[24][25] but also in Ireland[26] and Canada.[27] In the United States, Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has stated that such religion-and-relief groups are "using their position of power to try to persuade people to leave their faith.".[28] In 2003, The British supermarket chain Co-op and South Wales Fire Service both suspended their support for the project after numerous complaints about its religious connections.[17][29] Samaritan's Purse responded by stating that Christian literature was only handed out where it was deemed appropriate.[30]

In October 2014, Samaritan’s Purse was criticised in the UK for threatening legal action against the posters of online comments on the discussion forum Mumsnet. The resultant letters prompted one of the busiest discussions on the site’s “Am I being Unreasonable” forum.[31]


  1. ^ Charity Navigator Rating – Samaritan's Purse at
  2. ^ "World Vision Our History". World Vision. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "Samaritan’s Purse History". Samaritans Purse. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Blinder, Alan (August 2, 2014). "American Doctor With Ebola Arrives in U.S. for Treatment". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  5. ^ Neal, Dale (August 1, 2014). "Samaritan’s Purse evacuating 60 from Ebola outbreak". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  6. ^ McCay, Betsey (July 31, 2014). "Peace Corps, Aid Groups Evacuate Personnel From Ebola-Hit West Africa". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Walker, Jade (August 21, 2014). "Kent Brantly, American Doctor Treated For Ebola, To Be Released From U.S. Hospital". The Huffington Post ( Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  8. ^ [1]; Nov. 24. 2007.
  9. ^ Operation Christmas Child UK Alert
  10. ^ "Can you believe it? Operation Christmas Child celebrates tonight for the 100 million shoeboxes delivered to poor children around the world! Congrats to Reverend Franklin Graham, Samaritan's Purse everyone who helped and helps". Gretawire. April 6, 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 
  11. ^ "Charity Navigator Rating - Samaritan's Purse". Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  12. ^ "Darfur kidnapping victim sues aid group that sent her". Reuters. May 19, 2011. 
  13. ^ Rix, Matt. "Perspectives: Standard of care rising for employees in threat elevated areas". Business Insurance. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  14. ^ Gonzalez, David (March 8, 2001), "U.S. Aids Conversion-Minded Quake Relief in El Salvador", The New York Times, retrieved February 2010 
  15. ^ Gonzalez, David (March 5, 2001), "U.S. Cautions Group on Mixing Religion and Salvador Quake Aid", The New York Times, retrieved February 2010 
  16. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (May 8, 2003), "Top Evangelicals Critical Of Colleagues Over Islam", The New York Times, retrieved February 2010 
  17. ^ a b Muir, Hugh (November 29, 2003), "Co-op cuts Christmas box link with US charity", The Guardian (London), retrieved February 2010 
  18. ^ icWales (November 5, 2006), Red-faced MP dumps Islam-bashing charity, retrieved February 2010 
  19. ^ Vardy, David (November 18, 2003), "Being good Samaritans", Guardian Unlimited (London), retrieved February 2010 
  20. ^ Associated Press, File. "Franklin Graham moves to address concerns about his $1.2 million pay packages". Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  21. ^ Tim Funk; Ames Alexander (October 2009), "Franklin Graham's CEO pay draws experts' criticism", Charlotte Observer, retrieved March 2010 [dead link]
  22. ^ Funk, Tim. "CHARLOTTE: Franklin Graham gives up one of two nonprofit salaries | Religion". Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  23. ^ Tim Funk, Ames Alexander (August 8, 2015). "Franklin Graham takes pay he once gave up". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved August 2015. 
  24. ^ McCurry, Patrick (December 18, 2002), "Presents imperfect", The Guardian (London), retrieved February 2010 
  25. ^ McGreal, Chris (December 12, 2010), "Sarah Palin visits crisis-hit Haiti", The Guardian (London) 
  26. ^ Healy, Alison (October 2009), "Christmas aid group rejects criticism", The Irish Times 
  27. ^ Parents want Christian charity out of public schools,, November 25, 2002, retrieved February 2010 [dead link]
  28. ^ Grossman, Lynn (March 2006), "Billy Graham's son takes the pulpit, his own way", USA Today, retrieved February 2010 
  29. ^ "Shoe box charity in religious row", BBC Online, October 2003, retrieved February 2010 
  30. ^ BBC News (October 23, 2003), Shoe box charity in religious row, BBC News Online, retrieved February 2010 
  31. ^ "Legal News". Private Eye (London). 17 October 2014. p. 13. 

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