Frequently asked questions

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Questions about Mercy Corps

Q. Who is Mercy Corps?

A: Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action—helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.

Q. What percentage of my gift goes directly to programs?

A. Over the last five years, Mercy Corps has used 87 percent of our resources for programs that help people in need, and we meet all 20 Better Business Bureau standards for charity accountability. For detailed information about how donations are used, view our Financial Information page.

Q. Where is Mercy Corps located?

A. Our headquarters is in Portland, Oregon, and our European headquarters is in Edinburgh, Scotland. Other offices exist in the 42 countries where we have programs. Since our founding in 1979, we have worked in 114 countries.

Q. Who works for Mercy Corps?

A. Our program leaders speak the local languages, know the culture and understand the unique challenges of each community. More than 93 percent of our field staff are from the countries where they work. Their hard work and personal commitment to success helps lift their communities from poverty.

Q. Does Mercy Corps only respond to disasters?

A. We meet the urgent needs of today and build stronger tomorrows. That means when there’s a disaster we provide emergency relief, such as food, water, shelter and cash, as well as help reduce the risk of disaster by helping communities prepare. We also help communities rebuild and grow stronger. We help when people are struggling with poverty, hunger and conflict. We help people turn a crisis into an opportunity by listening to local people and helping them find long-term solutions that work in their communities.

Q. Is Mercy Corps a religious or faith-based organization?

A. No. Mercy Corps is a nonsectarian organization, and not affiliated with or restricted to a particular religious group. We strive to be sensitive to local logic, traditions, customs and cultures.

Q. How can I help?

A. Monetary donations are the most effective way to provide assistance. Mercy Corps uses cash donations to purchase needed items locally, which gives the local economy a boost, cuts down on high transportation costs and is the quickest way to bring aid to those who need it most.

Questions about fundraising

Q.What is a fundraising campaign? Is fundraising difficult?

A. A campaign can mean just about anything: hold a bake sale, host a 5K, climb a mountain, fundraise with your coworkers, or just create a fundraising page and share why you’re fundraising on social media. What’s important is that you make the most of your resources, including building on what you love to do and reaching out to people who can join your effort by participating or donating.

Fundraising isn’t difficult, and can (and should!) be a lot of fun. Just remember, this will be an empowering experience: as a fundraiser, you are helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.

Q. Does Mercy Corps accept material gifts, such as blankets, toiletries and other non-monetary items?

A. Mercy Corps is unable to accept most material donations. Wherever possible, we source materials local to the countries where we work. We’ve found that purchasing goods locally not only provides supplies to the people and places that need them most, but it also provides an income to local merchants and bolsters the local economy. In addition, it's much more cost-effective for us to eliminate the high cost and difficulty of sorting, shipping, storing and importing goods.

Q. What happens when I'm ready to register?

A. It just takes a few minutes to get started. Visit fundraising.mercycorps.org and register for a DIY fundraiser, or join one of our events. During the registration process, tell us a little about you and then customize what your page will say about why helping is important to you. You can always edit this later.

You can name your campaign after yourself, group or organization, and send the fundraising page link out to your community. You can also choose whether donors’ names and gifts are displayed, email contributors, suggest a gift size, upload an image and more! It helps to set a goal to a let your friends how much you’d like to raise. Be ambitious, but realistic.

When you’re done, you will land on your newly created fundraising page! Send the link to your friends, coworkers and family by email or social media. If you have any technical difficulties or questions during the registration process, let us know!

Q. How do I promote my fundraising campaign? Do you have a logo I could use or flyers?

A. Take a look at “Fundraising Tips and Tools” for helpful ideas on spreading the word about your campaign and asking for support, as well as downloads, videos, presentations, donation collection tools and more!

You can invite your community to donate and participate in your event directly from your fundraising page by email or via social media.

Q. Can I see the list of people who have donated to my fundraising campaign so I can thank them?

A. Yes — and you can send them a customized email right from your fundraising dashboard! This is one of the most important steps when you’re trying to reach a goal. Everybody loves to hear “thank you!” It lets the donor know you’re aware of their gift, and makes them feel good about chipping in. Another great idea is to thank them on social media. This lets you show gratitude publicly with the added benefit of drawing attention to your cause.

Q. Will my supporters receive tax receipts for their donations?

A. Mercy Corps can provide tax receipts for cash, check and credit card donations as long as we have the donor’s name and address. For offline gifts, we’ll send out tax receipts through the mail 1-2 weeks after we’ve received the donation at our offices. If you are sending in a check that represents multiple gifts (cash, for example), use our Fundraising Tracking Form (PDF or Excel file) .

Please note: if you are hosting a ticketed event, or hope to use any part of donations to cover event expenses, donors must be informed in advance that their tax receipt will only reflect the amount Mercy Corps receives. Please contact us about how to properly handle donations in this situation.

Q. How do I get donations that I collect offline counted toward my total?

A. You’ll find that some people might prefer giving you a check instead of contributing online. That’s great! You can still add that gift to your page and show the progress towards your goal. All donations must then be sent to Mercy Corps along with our Fundraising Tracking Form (PDF or Excel file)

Check and cash donations are especially common if you’re hosting a raffle, auction or even a dinner party to boost your fundraising. (See more about events like this below.)

When you receive check donations, log on, click on your campaign from your user page and open the "Edit" tab. Fill in the "Amount raised offline" field and hit "Save."

Q. What if I don't want to be contacted by Mercy Corps after I register?

A. You always have the option to opt out of our communications, as do donors to your fundraiser, by calling 1.888.842.0842 or emailing donorservices@mercycorps.org.

Questions about hosting a special event

Q. Can a Mercy Corps representative attend my event?

A. We can’t guarantee a representative, but we are often able to attend events near our Headquarters in Portland and surrounding areas. You can request a Mercy Corps representative by completing and submitting the Mercy Corps representative request form. Please keep the following in mind:

  • Generally, we need 5 days or more to successfully arrange a visit.
  • Representatives can accept donations from attendees, but can’t handle other types of purchases (such as raffle ticket sales).

Q. What will Mercy Corps do to promote or publicize my fundraiser?

A. As a tax-exempt organization, we adhere to the Better Business Bureau standards for charity accountability. This means Mercy Corps cannot engage in activities which may be viewed as “advertising” an event, product or service — even if the proceeds benefit our programs. We are unable to share or use our email lists to promote fundraisers.

However, we have provided a number of ways to help you promote your event to your community, including social media and email tools to help you promote your efforts online.

Q. Can I hold a raffle or auction for Mercy Corps?

A. Laws regarding events or appeals that involve gambling differ from state to state. It is your responsibility to ensure that the event complies with state laws. Tickets purchased for gambling activities are not tax-deductible.

Please note that Mercy Corps cannot provide tax-receipts for in-kind donations to your auction event, but we can send a letter of acknowledgement on official letterhead.

Q. Can I sell an item or service to benefit Mercy Corps?

A. Yes! Businesses, nonprofits and individuals alike are selling items and services for a good cause by donating the proceeds. “Cause marketing” partnerships generate much needed funds for our programs. In order to maintain positive and compliant cause marketing relationships, Mercy Corps follows Better Business Bureau standards and state laws. Please click here to contact Mercy Corps about your cause marketing idea.

Q. Will event sponsors or vendors receive tax receipts for their donations?

Mercy Corps cannot provide tax receipts for donations to your event. This is because these contributions are being made to you for your fundraising effort, and not directly to Mercy Corps. Instead, you can promote them and thank them for their support with a shout-out in your newsletter, on your fundraising page, on event fliers or on social media. At your request, Mercy Corps can send a letter of acknowledgement on official letterhead.

Q. My fundraising event has ended. Where and how do I send in my donations?

A. Thank you so much for fundraising for Mercy Corps! Please provide us a bit more information about you and your fundraiser by registering. To turn in donations, please always use our Fundraising Tracking Form (PDF or Excel file), and mail a check or money order to: Fundraising @ Mercy Corps, 45 SW Ankeny Street, Portland, OR, 97204.

Need help fundraising?