Many donors de-restricted their gifts with little reluctance, Sexton reports, citing a deep admiration for MSF’s mission of providing medical aid to victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural and man-made disasters. One donor replied: “I don’t know why I restricted my gift in the first place. I’ve been thinking about giving to MSF, but I’ve been so busy lately.”
Another woman asked, “Well, what other projects could I contribute to, then? I’d really like to know where my money’s going.”
Sexton quickly reminded the woman about the current crisis in Sudan. “That’s still going on?” the woman asked. “Of course, MSF currently has 282 international staff members and 3,657 national staff members on the ground,” Sexton responded.
One constant in international-relief efforts: the more media coverage a crisis attracts, the more donor dollars stream in.
“Now, because of the tsunami, we think we might be able to identify major donors who we didn’t know about and who didn’t know too much about us,” Sexton says. “We thought, even pre-tsunami, that we would hit our $30 million goal sooner than expected. Now it’s making us look at our goals a little differently.”
In calendar year 2004, MSF received $9.4 million from foundations and corporations, a vastly improved revenue stream from that of 2000, when the organization pulled in close to $1.8 million combined — the first year it had raised such funds.
An ongoing challenge for Patricia A. Surak, MSW, director of foundations and corporate relations, is to find new support from credible firms and grant-making institutions that meet the criteria of the organization’s strict gift-acceptance policy.
MSF will not accept any contributions from corporations or industries and their respective corporate foundations whose core activities could be considered in direct conflict with the goals of its humanitarian work. The organization has broken such groups into three categories: tobacco, alcohol and arms manufacturing; mineral, oil, gas and other extraction industries; and pharmaceutical industries.