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Annual Report 2010

It was an exceptional year for Oxfam America. We provided an unprecedented $62 million in support to our program services. The generosity of our supporters made this possible; donations were up 63 percent. For the fourth consecutive year, our overall program support exceeded 79 percent of our total spending. Moreover, with increased contributions and careful management of expenses, we boosted our net assets by $8.3 million, assuring that we have the financial base to continue helping people to overcome poverty.

A decade ago, Oxfam America stepped back and examined several key facts about development work. First, most one-off aid projects―those created to deliver goods or respond to a symptom of poverty—have little lasting effect on people’s lives. Second, a combination of economic growth and access to markets is the primary reason that the percentage of people living in poverty dropped by 22 percent between 1990 and 2005. Yet rapid economic growth can create problems too; invariably, some categories of people—like women and girls or indigenous people—consistently fall behind others.

These facts led Oxfam to deepen its institutional commitment to get at the root causes of poverty.

The expression “root causes” refers to an interwoven system of relationships. Poverty is about power, and power is about how people relate to each other. Thus, providing goods or services—like food or training—can be counterproductive unless we also help people raise their voices and claim the right to hold their leaders accountable.

This is how Oxfam works. When an emergency strikes, we address immediate and urgent needs. If we want to change people’s lives in a lasting way, our work must target long-standing social inequality.

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