Oxfam's philanthropic vision

Increasingly, philanthropy has become a pre-requisite to creating sustainable change and altering social landscapes. At Oxfam, we know that philanthropy is the critical difference between simply keeping people alive and empowering people to help build better lives for themselves. And by changing lives, together we change the world. Abby Maxman, Oxfam America's CEO, explains our commitment to the people we serve.

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Poor communities lose out on their fair share

82% of wealth created went to the richest 1% while the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity got nothing. Almost half a billion people live on less than $1.90 per day. Worldwide, women consistently earn less than men do. Their participation in the formal labor force is 26% lower than men’s. And the average gender pay gap is 23%.

The systemic discrimination against women and girls is the most pervasive cause and consequence of the power inequality that drives poverty. When women can exercise their rights and gain the knowledge, skills, and information they need, they can become powerful agendas of change. Although men and women have similar needs and ambitions, women do not have the same access to resources that men have. Built into our strategies is an understanding of that grave disparity. It shapes the way we design and evaluate our programs, aiming always to support women’s participation and leadership. Investments made in women and girls pay handsome returns for everyone.

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Building resilience through local leadership

When disaster strikes, the most vulnerable are the hardest hit. Oxfam saves lives in disasters and helps people build better futures for themselves. 

When Hurricane Maria dealt a devastating blow to Puerto Rico in September 2017, the damage to the island was widespread and deep. People struggled to survive day-to-day: power was out, water was unreliable, food was scarce, roads were impassable, and communication was nearly impossible. Oxfam worked closely with local partners to tackle problems. To address the lack of potable water, Oxfam worked collaboratively with organizations on the ground to distribute 1,951 household and institutional water filters in 16 municipalities, providing nearly 20,000 people with long-term reliable access to safe water. We also held workshops to train community leaders on development and application of low cost methods for water treatment and rapid water testing, and united a consortium of local organizations to form the Water Alliance, which is restoring water systems in rural and isolated communities, often with solar-powered pumps.

One of the best ways to address poverty is to empower women

Empowered women can change the world. At Oxfam America, that truth informs all of our work, from our response to humanitarian emergencies to our campaigns for social justice and the long-term investments we make in the poorest communities. We cannot solve societies biggest problems without considering the vast inequities that exist between women and men – the access each gender has to education, resources, and political engagement. Women, on every score, fall far behind. Sharing knowledge is at the heart of many of Oxfam’s initiatives – teaching women to manage money, start and run small businesses, or practice new planting techniques to ensure an abundant harvest. Knowledge is power, and sharing it is one of the surest ways to fight poverty.

Women bear the brunt in the battle against hunger, but they are a powerful force in feeding their communities. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, women are responsible for 50 to 75% of agricultural labor. 

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Widely admired by its peers, Oxfam speaks truth to power

Oxfam’s decision not to accept government funding shows that our ability to influence effectively and independently without comprising underlying principles is fundamental to who we are. Our peers look to us as an instrumental voice in setting policy and changing practice.

Oxfam holds power-holders to account, be it governments or corporations, on the community level, national level, or the international level. Systematic practices keep people poor by denying them the voice and choice and decision-making that effects their lives. The strength and independence of Oxfam’s voice means we can operate with freedom and independence without compromising our underlying principles. Our influence for good on the private sector plays a massive role into play in making positive change come about in the world. Increasingly, corporations realize they can be responsible as well as profitable. There is good data that says that countries and societies are healthier and wealthier in the long run when their major corporations treat their employees well. The private sector has the ability to influence on a mass scale, and Oxfam has a proven ability to influence the private sector.


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Your support matters now more than ever

History is repeating itself. Rising tides of populism. Shutting out refugees. Fueling the fires of racism. Investing more in prisons than education. Building walls instead of opening doors. For those who care about ending extreme poverty and suffering, the time to act is now. With more support, Oxfam can meet escalating needs. 

With additional funds, we can meet an ever-escalating demand for our services.

There are 30 million lives on the brink of starvation around the world. 65 million people are displaced. 800 million people go to bed hungry in a world that has the capacity to feed more than double the current population of the globe. We can’t possibly pay enough attention to all of the crises going on across the globe.  Right now, the demand for what we do exceeds our capacity. We are forced to say no to opportunities because we cannot take them on and do them well. With more resources, we could have so much more impact.  


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We are excellent stewards of your philanthropic dollars

See our audited financial statements

See our audited financial statements


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People create the conditions where poverty thrives. Therefore, people can end poverty. And we all have a role to play. Help us further this vital mission to end the injustice of poverty by signing up for updates or making a donation today.

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Additional credits: Lead image: Oxfam America President Abby Maxman visited Oxfam's staff, partners, and programs in Yemen in July 2018. Photo: Mohammed A. Quatab/Sam2Suns Media

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