In 1942, a group of Quaker intellectuals, social activists, and Oxford academics formed the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief in response to the plight of refugees in Greece. After the war, Oxfam (a name derived from its postal code abbreviation) continued its work, sending materials and financial aid to groups aiding poor people throughout Europe. As the situation in Europe improved, Oxfam's attention shifted to the needs of people in developing countries.
Twenty-eight years later, a group of volunteers founded Oxfam America in 1970 in response to the humanitarian crisis created by the fight for independence in Bangladesh. Oxfam Great Britain provided a loan for the group, and at first Oxfam America funneled funds exclusively through Oxfam Great Britain. Originally located in Washington, DC, Oxfam America relocated to Boston in 1973.
A more detailed history of Oxfam also can be found on Oxfam Great Britain’s website.
"Oxfam" was the original postal abbreviation for the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, which was started in England during World War II to provide relief to war victims in Europe. Since then, Oxfam affiliates have been established in 18 countries.
Donations and fundraising
Oxfam America relies almost entirely on funding from individual donors, foundations, and corporations. We are fortunate to have hundreds of thousands of supporters, many of whom give every month or year. Oxfam America operates efficiently and always aims to minimize administrative costs, and is committed to transparency. In 2018, 77 percent of our expenditures went directly to program support—well above the standard recommended by CharityWatch, one of the leading charity-rating organizations in the US. At least 90 percent of funds designated by individual donors for humanitarian emergencies directly support our responses for those emergencies. We strive to exceed or maintain these standards each year.
Our most recent annual reports, as well as additional financial information, are available in the Financial Information section of our website.
Oxfam America seeks to operate efficiently and to minimize fundraising and administrative costs. In 2018, we allocated 77 percent of our expenditures for development programs and emergency relief—a number that is well above the standard recommended by the CharityWatch, one of the leading charity-rating organizations in the US. During this same period, at least 90 percent of funds designated by individual donors for humanitarian emergencies directly supported our relief efforts for those emergencies. We strive to exceed or maintain these standards each year.
Our EIN/tax ID number is 23-706-9110.
Oxfam America creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice. Because we are not tied to any specific political, economic, or religious interests, we are able to independently develop, fund, and support effective programs that help people overcome poverty and secure their rights. To protect our ability to speak out on behalf of those who most need it and to preserve our independence, Oxfam America does not accept funds from organizations involved in industries in which we are campaigning or from the US government. Additionally, we do not accept some product donations because they could compromise the effectiveness of our programs.
Oxfam America is rated highly by leading independent charity evaluators, including Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest charity evaluator. Oxfam America has the Better Business Bureau’s highest rating and seal of approval for charitable organizations by meeting all 20 of its Standards for Charity Accountability. Oxfam America is also a "Top Charity" and recipient of an "A" rating from Charity Watch. These rankings place Oxfam America among an elite group of charitable organizations nationally.
Oxfam America has an extensive gift planning program. You can learn more in our Create a Legacy section.
Yes, Oxfam America has a policy on ethical fund raising and marketing. We encourage donors or potential donors to contact us regarding any questions or concerns regarding our Donor Bill of Rights. We hope that our adherence to these rights strengthens the trust and confidence our donors have in us and our efforts to work together to reduce global poverty and injustice.
Yes. Oxfam America has a public records retention policy for handling, backing up, archiving, and destroying documents. Read the details of this policy.