Frequently asked questions about Oxfam
- What is the history of Oxfam?
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.
- What is the history of the name "Oxfam"?
"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
- How is Oxfam America funded?
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 2017, 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.
- Can I get a copy of Oxfam America's annual report?
Our most recent annual reports, as well as additional financial information, are available in the Financial Information section of our website.
- How is my donation spent?
Oxfam America seeks to operate efficiently and to minimize fundraising and administrative costs. In 2017, 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.
- What is Oxfam America's employer identification number (EIN)/tax ID?
Our EIN/tax ID number is 23-706-9110.
- What are Oxfam America's principles on accepting donations?
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.
- How does Oxfam America measure up to other charities?
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.
- Do you offer a gift planning program?
Oxfam America has an extensive gift planning program. You can learn more in our Create a Legacy section.
- Does Oxfam America have a policy on ethical fund raising?
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.
- Do you have a records retention and destruction policy?
Yes. Oxfam America has a public records retention policy for handling, backing up, archiving, and destroying documents. Read the details of this policy.
- Can I give on a monthly basis?
Yes! You can give on a monthly basis by signing up to be an Oxfam Partner. Setting up monthly payments via your credit card or through automatic bank transfer helps provide Oxfam America with a reliable stream of funds to create lasting solutions to hunger and poverty, while also reducing our administrative costs. In addition, members of the Oxfam Partner Program receive quarterly updates on our work and our OXFAMCloseup magazine. You can sign up here.
- How can I give through my checking account?
Giving through secure automatic bank transfers reduces fees and eliminates printing, paper, and postage costs, which lets Oxfam America put a larger portion of your gift to work in more than 90 countries! Existing Partners can switch to automatic bank transfer here or by calling us at 1(800)776-9326 – option 2. Not an Oxfam Partner yet? Sign up for monthly giving and become an Oxfam Partner here!
- When will my monthly gifts be made?
When you sign up to give monthly through your credit card or bank account, your monthly gift will be made on (or near) the same day of the month as your first pledge gift.
- How do I change my credit card information?
Existing Oxfam Partners can update their credit card information here or by calling us at 1(800)776-9326 – option 2. Not an Oxfam Partner yet? Sign up for monthly giving and become an Oxfam Partner here
- How do I change my contact information?
Existing Oxfam Partners can change their contact information (address, email address, or telephone number) here or by calling us at 1(800)776-9326 – option 2.
- How do I stop my monthly gifts?
Please send your request with your name, mailing address, current gift payment method, and monthly gift amount to email@example.com or contact us by phone at (800) 776-9326, or mail your request to our address provided below.
- How do I contact Oxfam America regarding the Oxfam Partner Program?
- How do I apply for a job with Oxfam America?
Find an open position that matches your skills, experience, and interests and apply online today. Click the Apply button at the bottom of any position description page.
You will receive an email confirming receipt of your résumé/CV. If we determine there is a good match between your background, experience, and education and the position requirements, we will contact you for a telephone interview for initial screening. If you are selected for further consideration, you will be contacted to schedule an additional interview with a hiring committee, either in person or via telephone.
If there are no open positions that match your interests, you can still add your information to our database, so that we can send you notifications of new positions based on your interests.
Thank you for your interest in joining Oxfam America in our fight against poverty and social injustice.
Oxfam America is an equal opportunity employer.
- How do I intern or volunteer with Oxfam America?
Interested in being a volunteer or intern at Oxfam America? We're looking for highly motivated people to support our mission and bring excellent interpersonal and communication skills to the task. Internships and volunteer positions provide a substantive, challenging work experience and will expand your understanding of Oxfam America's work.
You will receive a confirmation email and will be contacted if you are selected as a candidate. If there are no open positions that match your interests, you can still add your information to our database, so that we can send you notifications of new jobs based on your interests.
Interns and volunteers perform many of the same tasks and frequently work together on projects, but there are some key differences between internships and volunteer positions at Oxfam America.
- Are students in an accredited educational program, or have visas for their year of training after graduation
- Work for a fixed period with a set number of hours per week; eight hours is the minimum per week, and a total of 80 hours is an acceptable minimum commitment
- May work for credit or a college-provided stipend, but are generally not paid by Oxfam America
- Must have US work papers
- May be in an accredited educational program, but may not want to be interns
- May be at Oxfam America for short-term projects, for special events, for occasional work, or for a number of years
Unless otherwise noted, any qualified individual can apply. All applicants must have valid visas or work papers that allow them to legally work in the US. Oxfam America does not provide visas for interns or volunteers.
Oxfam America is an equal opportunity employer.
- Does Oxfam America offer volunteer opportunities abroad?
We are unable to offer internships or volunteer opportunities abroad. The nature of our work often requires very specific knowledge and skills, and overseas work can sometimes be dangerous. As a result, all of our internships and volunteer opportunities are based in the US, located in: Boston, MA; Washington, DC; Chicago, IL; or Minneapolis, MN.
- What policies does Oxfam America have in place to protect people from sexual harassment and abuse?
Since 2010, Oxfam America has instituted policies for harassment complaints, harassment prevention, prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, and sexual harassment. These have been updated annually since then. In addition, in 2011, we added a policy on child protection, and prevention of bullying and harassment. These policies are to set the rules of behavior, and staff are obliged to abide by these policies. Oxfam America’s HR department oversees its safeguarding measures.
- How do people safely report cases of misconduct?
Oxfam America’s safeguarding measures include a confidential whistleblowing mechanism, which is mediated by a third-party service provider called Navex Global (known internally as EthicsPoint). This whistleblowing system has been in place with Oxfam America since at least 2010. This allows people—including staff, volunteers, beneficiaries, and donors—to confidentially report any cases of misconduct, financial embezzlement, or violation of policy or any other practice inconsistent with Oxfam values in three different languages. People can make complaints online, via phone, or mail in English, Spanish, or French. The information on how to access this service is publicly available on our website and posted in all country offices Oxfam America oversees.
Every complaint is promptly investigated by Oxfam America’s HR department and other departments as needed, and depending on the nature of the case we will hire independent external investigators.
- What recent efforts has Oxfam made to help prevent abuse and misconduct from happening in the first place?
Oxfam America has trained all of its more than 300 US and global staff members on prevention of sexual harassment. This training is required of all staff and has taken place most recently in 2014, 2015, and 2017.
In 2017, Oxfam International created a global Safeguarding Task Force, led by Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International Executive Director and Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America. It is working in three main areas:
- Prevention: This includes training, communications and information to prevent risk of harm and abuse, a revision of staff screening processes, risk assessment and an evaluation of staff capacity to perform the work.
- Support and care: Entails providing resources to support and care for who have experienced sexual harassment, abuse and/or violence. It also includes ensuring that staff have access to specialized training and experience.
- Response: This includes strengthening and harmonizing current policies and procedures, and ensuring that these are clear and accessible to all. It also means that we are cultivating a culture where information is shared and people are held accountable.
In 2018, Oxfam asked women’s rights leaders to form an independent commission to carry out a wide-ranging review of Oxfam’s practices and culture, including its handling of past cases of sexual misconduct. This work is part of our comprehensive plan to strengthen safeguarding systems across the organization and stamp out abuse.
Recognizing the importance of this work across the humanitarian aid sector, Abby Maxman is also co-lead for the InterAction CEO Task Team on Sexual Harassment and Abuse. InterAction, an alliance organization that represents US nonprofits operating around the world to advance the lives of people living in the poorest and most marginalized conditions, recently issued a statement affirming its commitment to fight discrimination, sexual harassment, and abuse within the international nonprofit community.
- How can our organization apply for a grant?
Oxfam America partners with local communities to address their needs directly and to create solutions that will be sustainable over time. Because of our limited funds, we can only support organizations that are working in the approximately 30 countries in which we have programs. As much as we would like to fund more projects, we must adhere to our strategic focus.
Here are some additional details on how Oxfam America allocates funds:
- The majority of grants are for one year.
- In 2004, we funded more than 244 partner organizations.
- Grants usually range from $10,000 to $40,000, and in a few cases can be up to $60,000.
- In general, grant proposals are developed in cooperation between our regional staff and potential partner organizations. Although we usually refer unsolicited requests to our regional staff (if the proposal is in line with the regional strategy), such proposals are rarely funded.
- We do not fund individuals.
- We do not fund government projects, churches, clinics/health centers, schools, and government bodies.
Please see the explore section of the website to learn more about the focus of our regional programs, the issues we work on, and our emergency relief work. If you still have questions about funding, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Does Oxfam America provide financial aid for students?
Oxfam America is not able to provide financial aid to individuals, nor can we arrange, organize, or fund study abroad programs. However, for answers to your financial aid questions, we recommend the following helpful websites:
- What if I'm not from the US. Can I still join?
Absolutely. Anyone can participate in our online community and receive our monthly newsletter and occasional action alerts. While many of our email campaigns target US-based organizations and authorities, we also coordinate with groups all over the world.
- How do I remove my name from the mailing list or update my address/bio information?
- How can I help?
Oxfam is constantly in need of dedicated individuals to mobilize their communities in the fight against hunger, poverty, and social injustice. Here are just a few suggested ways to channel your energies to help:
- Learn more about what we do, the fundamental rights that Oxfam defends, and which underlie the issues we work on.
- Address the root causes of poverty by taking action online.
- Help in our education and outreach efforts by hosting an Oxfam Hunger Banquet® event.
- Become a monthly Pledge Partner.
- Link to our site: www.oxfamamerica.org.
Please visit the Take action section of this website for more ideas, tools, and resources, and share what you learn with others.
- Can you keep me up to date on the progress of Oxfam's campaigns?
Yes! When you join our free email update list, you'll receive regular news on our work and campaigns, as well as opportunities to take action in the fight against poverty, hunger, and social injustice.
- How do I get to your offices?
Our headquarters office is in Boston, MA, and our policy & advocacy office are located in Washington, DC. We've posted directions to our offices for your convenience.
- I still have a question! Who can I contact?
Please visit our Contact Us page.
- How do I change the amount of my monthly gift?
Existing Oxfam Partners can change the amount of their monthly gifts here or by calling us at 1(800)776-9326 – option 2.