NEW YORK — International relief and development agency Oxfam America announced a new $50 million fundraising initiative, the Campaign for Oxfam America, at last night’s Esquire House celebrity event in New York City. To date, the Campaign has raised $43.8 million.
"This is not a typical campaign,” said Janet McKinley, chair of Oxfam America’s board of directors and of the Campaign for Oxfam America. “We're not raising money for new buildings or for a perpetual endowment. The highest return a donor can get is to put money to work now.”
“Oxfam is seeking investors who want to expand our programs over a five-year period, building the capacity of poor communities, particularly women, to earn more, save more, invest in their families, and better manage their risks,” McKinley continued. “And given the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, those risks are rising.” McKinley and her husband, George Miller, have already committed $5 million to the Campaign for Oxfam America.
“The show of support we have seen for the Campaign is especially significant since Oxfam, in order to preserve its independence and voice, does not accept funding from the US government. The organization depends entirely on gifts and grants from individual donors, foundations, and corporations to carry out its mission of poverty alleviation and social justice,” McKinley concluded.
To date, individuals have contributed 57 percent of the donations for the Campaign for Oxfam America. Foundations and corporations have donated 43 percent. The Campaign has received commitments for 10 seven-figure and 50 six-figure gifts.
Among the leading institutional donors, the New York City-based Ford Foundation has already committed $9 million to the Campaign.
“The foundation shares Oxfam America’s commitment to reducing poverty, creating economic opportunities, investing in women and families,” said Susan V. Berresford, president of the Ford Foundation. “We welcome these efforts to create lasting, equitable solutions to the most pressing global issues.”
Another major donor to Oxfam, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, CA, has contributed $4.5 million in current grants.
“Oxfam makes canny use of its financial support,” said Paul Brest, president of the Hewlett Foundation. “We share its goals of reforming aid and making global trade practices fairer as an effective way to lift the world’s population out of poverty.”
Funds raised through the Campaign for Oxfam America will support longer-term investment in four distinct areas of work:
- Oxfam will strengthen its work with communities on reducing the risk of disaster and responding with greater urgency. By gauging the risks communities face, Oxfam can help them map their resources and devise plans that will allow everyone to reach safety in the early hours of an emergency.
- In addition, the Campaign has already supported the launch of Oxfam’s new public health initiative that has helped the organization respond to emergencies in a new way. When an outbreak of acute diarrhea rippled across Ethiopia last fall, sickening 59,000 people and leaving 684 dead, Oxfam was able to track down the likely source of the outbreak, help start an education campaign, and assist in establishing treatment centers.
Empowering Woman and Families
- By the end of 2007, Oxfam expects more than 100,000 women in Mali, Cambodia, and Senegal to have joined an Oxfam Saving for Change group – a savings-led microfinance program that empowers poor women to run their own savings and lending circles while gaining leadership and management skills. The Campaign will support the program’s longer-term goal of involving one million women.
- The organization is also developing new ways to help governments and civil society improve conditions for women who bear the brunt of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in southern Africa and suffer from violence in Central America. In El Salvador, a 2004 public opinion poll showed how pervasive the problem of violence against women is. More than half of those surveyed thought it was normal for a man to beat a woman. Oxfam has joined with six other groups to launch a public education and advocacy campaign calling on the local government and its employees to prevent that violence. The organization plans to build on the momentum started by the participation of more than 500 public officials in discussions on gender violence, women’s rights, and public safety.
Creating Economic Opportunity
- Large-scale oil, gas and mining projects often enrich a few while displacing whole communities and polluting the land and water on which they depend. Oxfam will build on its work to ensure extractive industries design their projects in ways that preserve those vital resources, response the rights of poor people, and contribute to the long-term reduction of poverty.
- Oxfam will continue to strengthen its capacity to campaign for change by tackling unfair trade practices so that poor farmers stand a chance of earning a fair price for their efforts. The organization has a track record on campaigning that has put it at the forefront of the movement to ensure both corporate and government social accountability. Oxfam’s recent work on behalf of Ethiopian coffee farmers is a prime example. Through its public awareness campaign, the organization helped to bring attention to Ethiopia’s efforts to trademark its fine coffee names. The effort led to a historic agreement between Starbucks and Ethiopia on distribution, marketing, and licensing that will help the country’s farmers.
Ensuring Impact and Effectiveness
- To ensure that each of our initiatives has the greatest impact, the Campaign will enable Oxfam to expand its learning and evaluation department. The department’s mission is to help the organization design all of its programs so that their effect on people’s social and economic rights can be clearly measured.