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Top 10 things you need to know about Oxfam

By Chris Hufstader

What is Oxfam, what do we do, and how do we do it? Here’s the information you need.

1: Oxfam America is a global movement of people working together to end the injustice of poverty.

We believe poverty is wrong, and that it is not an inevitable fact of life. We take on the big issues that keep people poor: inequality, discrimination, and unequal access to resources including food, water, and land. We help people save lives in disasters, work on long-term solutions for the underlying causes of poverty, and hold the powerful accountable.

2: You can trust us.

Oxfam America is rated highly by leading independent charity evaluators, including Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest charity evaluator. Oxfam 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 has also achieved the highest Platinum level profile with Guidestar, a philanthropic research organization that rewards transparency. These rankings place Oxfam among an elite group of charitable organizations nationally.

We know how important it is to spend every dollar wisely; the more efficient we are, the farther your dollar goes, and the more people we can help.

3: We work with local and national organizations: our partners.

Oxfam worked with a local organization called Action for Development in Ethiopia to create this reservoir local clans use to water their cattle in the dry season. Photo: Eva-Lotta Jansson/ Oxfam

We provide local partners grants for their anti-poverty programs and work with them to build alliances, networks, and effective organizations that will eventually be self-sufficient. Most importantly, we work with our partners to learn; what they teach us about the best solutions to poverty is just as valuable as the funding and collaboration we provide them.

4: We believe that fighting poverty is about fighting injustice.

Poverty often arises from the violation of people’s basic rights. When someone is denied the right to own land, the right to education, access to basic services like clean water, a fair price for the crops they grow, or a fair wage for the work they do, the result is poverty. Fighting injustice is an essential means to ending poverty.

5: The projects we fund are community driven.

A girl draws water from a community “healthy well” in Zacatecoluca, El Salvador, built by Oxfam partner PRO-VIDA and designed to resist contamination from floodwater. Photo: René Figueroa/Oxfam

Our local partners do the work, so the results are theirs. Locally informed and locally driven solutions to poverty are the best solutions—the most sustainable and the most appropriate—because they come from the people who can keep the initiatives going after Oxfam and its funding goes away.

6: Poverty puts people in harm's way.

Poverty makes people vulnerable to calamities—from armed conflicts to earthquakes. Poverty forces people to live in violent areas or to build their houses with flimsy materials in locations vulnerable to floods and landslides. But even the poorest countries can ensure local leaders have the funds and training they need to mount an effective disaster response, and prepare for future emergencies. We help people in vulnerable communities to reduce their risks, and to advocate with their governments to support their efforts. 

7: We help people learn about their basic rights and how to defend them.

Indigenous women from all over Peru march through the center of Lima, Peru, calling on the government to increase support for rural small-scale farmers, especially women, who produce much of Peru's food. Photo: Percy Ramirez/Oxfam America

By educating people about their rights, we help to build strong communities that compel governments and other institutions to deliver on their responsibilities. When citizens hold their governments accountable, they can change the systems that keep people trapped in poverty.

8: Oxfam is a global organization with a massive reach.

With more than 70 years of experience, working in more than 90 countries, we know what it takes to end poverty and we are mobilizing people and resources worldwide to make it happen. In 2015-2016 we reached more than 22 million people in our long-term development and humanitarian assistance programs, working with 4,553 local partners and more than $1.2 billion.

9: Laws, policies, and institutions have an enormous impact on poverty.

Anna Oloshuro Okaro, a farmer and community leader from Tanzania, came to Washington in 2012 to receive an award from Oxfam in recognition of her work as a “strong advocate for development, effective champion of change, and tireless advocate for women.” She also participated in meetings with members of the US Congress, advocating for policies that support women farmers around the world, including reform to US food aid programs in the US Farm Bill. Photo: Ilene Perlman / Oxfam America

Decision makers rarely consult poor people  about major issues like international trade agreements, climate change, or how wealthy countries administer foreign aid programs that are supposed to help them. From the halls of Congress to the World Bank, we make sure the voices of the world’s poorest people are heard loud and clear. We bring our passionate supporters together to take action on big issues that keep people poor. Every action is powerful—signing a petition, pressuring big business, meeting with policymakers. When we speak as one, world leaders listen.

10: You can join the effort. Everyone—including you—has a part to play in the fight against poverty and injustice.

Ending poverty is possible, but it will take every one of us. Each of us has a role to play. With the power of many voices speaking together, we can call on companies and legislators to change the laws and practices that keep people in poverty. We can also raise awareness and inspire action on some of the world's most urgent issues. We can't do this alone. Please join our online community; we need your voice and your support. No matter who you are, or how busy you are, you can make a difference.


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