An Interview With Jennifer Tierney, Director of Development of Doctors Without Borders/M
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. Today, MSF provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care or natural disasters.
MSF provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need, and in 1999 received the Nobel Peace Prize for its work.
Here, we talk with Jennifer Tierney about the organization and its fundraising strategies and challenges.
FundRaising Success: How do you fund your mission?
Jennifer Tierney: In the U.S., we raise private funds exclusively. This is done through direct marketing efforts, foundations and corporations, and major-donor and planned-giving programs.
FS: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces as far as fundraising is concerned? How do you overcome them?
JT: Clearly the economy has had a major impact on everyone, so that has been a challenge. We have tried to be creative in our fundraising this year, while sticking to our core principle of independence. Private, unrestricted funding allows us to respond to medical humanitarian crises based on our independent assessment of the needs, and to react quickly as our funds are not tied up in earmarked accounts. We kept these core principles in mind as we created our online fundraising strategy for the year. For example, how do we let our donors know that we are responding to a natural disaster in the days immediately following the event, without asking them to send earmarked funds specifically for that disaster that may end up being more than we need for that response? We chose to approach this challenge by sending them an e-mail about how our assessments or exploratory missions, which evaluate the needs, work and the things we were doing right away in response, without including an ask for that type of project. All the while, we made clear that the response will expand or contract based on what the exploratory team finds.