Is Doctors Without Borders a good charity? Start Here

Doctors Without Borders

With its momentous growth from a group of doctors in France to a global movement, Médecins Sans Frontières, commonly translated to English as Doctors Without Borders, is now a well-recognized humanitarian organization providing medical relief in more than 70 countries.

Though the organization possesses the acclaimed Nobel Peace Prize and the Lasker Award to its name, one needs to dive deep into its inner mechanism to learn more about its credibility. Therefore, this article will detail everything you need to know before making a donation to Doctors Without Borders.

Key Takeaways

  • Doctors Without Borders is a top-rated charity as per assessments done by global charity watchdog agencies and rating organizations.
  • The organization serves a noble cause by providing humanitarian medical assistance to people in distress and its aid transcends national borders.
  • Doctors Without Borders is a transparent and accountable organization that strives to channel most of its donations into achieving its core mission.

Doctors Without Borders is reputed for being a top-rated and tax-exempt charity

As a non-profit organization that seeks efficient operation and attempts to curtail administrative and fundraising costs as much as possible, Doctors Without Borders has a reputation for fulfilling the standards set by numerous charity watchdog and rating agencies.

Charity Navigator, the largest charity assessment organization in the world, awarded Doctors Without Borders USA with a 4-Star rating and an overall score of 92.25 percent for its sound financial health and accountable system during its most recent evaluation in 2019.

To elaborate, Charity Navigator proclaimed that donors can “give with confidence” to Doctors Without Borders and provided a rating of 97 percent for the organization’s accountability and transparency and 89.47 percent for its finance. Also, the organization has consistently maintained an average score of 91.5 percent during 20 years of its evaluation.

As per Charity Navigator’s evaluation, Doctors Without Borders maintained a program expense ratio of 87.4 percent and spent 1.3 percent on administration and 11.2 percent on fundraising activities in 2019.

Furthermore, CharityWatch, formerly known as the American Institute of Philanthropy, gave a grade ‘A’ rating to Doctors Without Borders USA in its October 2021 report. The Chicago-based charity rating organization also found out that in the said year, Doctors Without Borders USA used 85 percent of their budget on programs and spent only $13 on fundraising to raise $100.

Besides, it is also a 501(c)(3) organization that is exempted from paying federal income tax by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Hence, not only is Doctors Without Borders a commendable charity in terms of governance and transparency, but its donations in the US are also tax-deductible.

Doctors Without Borders works for a noble cause and has made significant achievements in providing medical humanitarian assistance

A homeless man speaks with Medecins Sans Frontieres’ personnel as he waits to be vaccinated against coronavirus (COVID-19) at a MSF medical centre in Paris on June 11, 2021 | Photo By Thomas Coex/AFP

The non-profit charity, while being a self-governed and member-based organization, serves a noble cause; providing essential philanthropical medical help to the afflicted people who are unable to afford or have access to proper health care. The Doctors Without Borders website declares:

“We provide medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare. Our teams are made up of tens of thousands of health professionals, logistic and administrative staff – bound together by our charter. Our actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of impartiality, independence, and neutrality.”

The organization was founded in the belief that “all people should have access to healthcare regardless of gender, race, religion, creed or political affiliation, and that people’s medical needs outweigh respect for national boundaries”. Likewise, it chiefly operates in the developing countries that are in dire requirement of medical aid.

According to Doctors Without Borders’ reports and finances webpage, 80.5 percent of the charity’s financial resources are assigned for covering their social mission such as humanitarian programs and awareness-raising.

The activities in their social mission also include Access Campaign, which aims to make essential medical instruments accessible to developing countries, and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDI) which develops and provides affordable treatments for patients with neglected diseases.

Such programs have contributed to the welfare of tens of millions of people and have achieved the desired success of improving medical care around the world. For instance, as per the DNDI website, the initiative has saved millions of lives since 2003 through its development of nine treatments for six deadly diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness, visceral leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and Fexinidazole.

Donations made to Doctors Without Borders find their way to the right destination under transparent and accountable circumstances

Individual donors and private institutions account for more than 97 percent of its operating funds and are the leading source of finance for the organization. With increasing contributions over the years, Doctors Without Borders expanded its funding for field programs to reach more people, responded quickly to emergencies, and improved the quality of medical services.

A majority of the donations made to Doctors Without Borders are prioritized towards funding consultations, surgeries, treatments, and vaccinations. Whereas, the remaining funds are allocated to general management and fundraising costs.

Since 1995, it has maintained an exceptional caliber of devoting more than 85 cents of every dollar to its medical humanitarian programs. It also conserves available cash and reserves equal to the agency’s six-month operating cost in anticipation of emergencies or a shortage of funds.

To strengthen financial transparency and accountability, as stated in their webpage, Doctors Without Borders records a detailed budget plan for every field program that is reviewed and reevaluated daily. Moreover, annual external financial audits are conducted and the reports are published online and readily accessible by the public.

The organization goes a step further and also informs its donors through mailings and publications about the ongoing activities and the usage of their contributions. However, with its firm privacy policy in place, any personal information of the donors is protected.

Additionally, Doctors Without Borders uphold an ethical high ground by abstaining from unprincipled methods of fundraising. For instance, the organization does not accept donations from corporations or industries whose activities conflict with the fundamental values of its humanitarian efforts.