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Why Give to Catholic Relief Services?

You've probably heard some of the inspiring stories of people whose lives have been transformed through the generosity of CRS donors like you. Your donations hold incredible power to alleviate suffering and restore hope for our brothers and sisters overseas.

But we know you want to be sure your gifts will be used wisely, and we respect your concern. Through careful stewardship of resources, we make sure the funds you have so generously entrusted to us go where they are most needed. We want you to feel confident that your decision to give to Catholic Relief Services is a sound one, and that your donations will be used effectively and efficiently to make a lifesaving difference.

Please take a moment to review some of the resources provided here and learn more about how we work. CRS is most thankful for your help; we would be unable to carry out our lifesaving work without it.

CRS Is Efficient

How we ensure your donation will be used wisely.

We are one of the most efficient organizations in the world. Did you know that 93 percent of the money we spend goes directly to programs that benefit the poor overseas? We work hard to keep our overhead down and consistently work smarter and find better ways of doing things to eliminate redundancies that often plague other organizations. You are always welcome to review our financial statements.

Additionally, we meet all 20 of the strict Charity Standards set by the Better Business Bureau's charity rating arm, the Wise Giving Alliance, and have an "A+" rating from CharityWatch. Both of these charity watchdog groups use criteria that confirm fiscal efficiency, such as percentage of funds going directly to programs, cost to raise a dollar, transparency and honoring of donor intent.

CRS-funded relief supplies are packed by students at Saint Paul University in Manila, the Philippines, to be delivered to flood victims affected by 2009 Typhoon Ketsana. Photo by Laura Sheahen/CRS

We strive for efficiency in all that we do. Under our Guiding Principles, based on Catholic social teaching, we follow the tenet of subsidiarity: A higher level of government—or organization—should not perform any function or duty that can be handled more effectively at a lower level by people who are closer to the problem and have a better understanding of the issue. In many of the countries where we work, our local Church partners represent an efficient network already on the ground. Their work allows us to mobilize quickly to distribute food, emergency supplies and information, often within hours of a disaster. Together, we can meet the most critical needs and then help people "build back better" so that their communities will be stronger and better able to contend with future events.

Don't just take our word for it. Our partners and those we serve will attest to how well we function and what a difference our programming makes in the lives of others.

Read additional stories of people helped by our donors' generosity and CRS programming:

CRS Is Effective

How do we know we are making a difference?

Catholic Relief Services has more than 70 years of experience and technical expertise to help as many people as possible in an organized and manageable way, quickly and reliably. The unspeakable 1994 genocide in Rwanda was a turning point for our agency as we vowed to not only meet immediate needs but also challenge structures that promote injustice. In 1998, our experience responding to Hurricane Mitch in Central America gave us invaluable knowledge and honed our approach to disaster response. It was this expertise—and the overwhelming donor response—that fueled our five-year effort to help survivors rebuild their lives after the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Haiti earthquake.

Our programs are carefully executed, monitored and evaluated by our talented staff—some of the best and brightest—who have chosen to dedicate their lives to serving the poor overseas. It is the caliber of CRS' staff around the world that has earned CRS respect in the humanitarian community. Thanks to their expertise, CRS is regarded as a leader in many of the diverse fields that we work. Below are some examples where CRS embodies the best:

A CRS water project has had a profound impact on the health of residents, especially children—who are most susceptible to illness and disease—in Legedini, southern Ethiopia. Photo by David Snyder for CRS

  • Founding member of the Sphere Project that set the standards for humanitarian and disaster response.
  • Founding member of NetHope, an Information Technology consortium with the goal of bringing technology to the developing world.
  • Member of the PEPFAR Consortium—the largest undertaking by any nation to combat HIV and AIDS.
  • CRS' work for orphans and children affected by HIV is considered to be a key model to follow, and a forum was held in 2008 to share best practices.
  • Learn more about why CRS' emergency response programming is held in high esteem by reading this article about Pat Johns, known as the "Master of Disaster."
  • CRS' microfinance programming helps the very poorest by introducing savings and internal lending communities and self-help groups that strengthen the entire community.

CRS strives to be innovative and solve problems in creative ways that often resolve two needs at the same time. Take, for instance, building keyhole gardens in Lesotho. These waist-high gardens allow people with HIV to tend their gardens without stooping, giving them a way to get manageable levels of exercise as well as grow fresh food to eat. Other examples:

CRS Is Accountable

How do we maintain integrity in all the work that we do?

As a faith-based 501(c)(3) charity, Catholic Relief Services is exempt from filing a Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service. However, we make all of this information available on our website every year. We invite you to look under the hood and read our financial reports. You'll see that 94 percent of the money we spend goes directly to programs that benefit the poor overseas.

We so value the trust placed in us by our donors that we have created a Pledge to Donors. To report back on how donations are being used to transform lives overseas, we publish a monthly CRSbriefing e-newsletter, presenting stories of those we serve with our donors' support.

We strive to be good stewards, not only with the donations entrusted to us, but also through careful program planning that ensures good stewardship of natural resources by using strategic measures in watershed management and conservation agriculture that will protect resources for future generations.

Each year we sign pledges with many outside organizations to uphold integrity in the work we do overseas. We also comply with U.S.-based charity watchdog groups who confirm that we meet their strict standards.

Finally, please take a minute to review our revised Mission Statement, Guiding Principles and Privacy Policy. We are most accountable to those we serve, alleviating the suffering of the poor overseas and giving Catholics in the United States the opportunity to live their faith in solidarity with their brothers and sisters around the world.

Catholic Relief Services is a member of InterAction and held accountable to their PVO Standards. To see other organizations where CRS is a member and read their standards, please click on the "CRS Is Accountable" tab, above.

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