Charity Review

  • Issued: January 2018
  • Expires: January 2020

Doctors Without Borders USA

Standards Not Met

  • 1
  • 4
  • 14
  • 16

212-679-6800

333 Seventh Avenue, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10001-5004

http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org

212-679-6800

333 Seventh Avenue, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10001-5004

http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org

Standards Not Met

This organization does not meet one or more of the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Click the conclusions section below for more information.

Standards For Charity Accountability

Governance

  1. Board Oversight

    Oversight of Operations and Staff: Standard 1

    Description
    Organizations shall have a board of directors that provides adequate oversight of the charity's operations and its staff. Indication of adequate oversight includes, but is not limited to, regularly scheduled appraisals of the CEO's performance, evidence of disbursement controls such as board approval of the budget, fund raising practices, establishment of a conflict of interest policy, and establishment of accounting procedures sufficient to safeguard charity finances.

    DWB does not meet this Standard because its board of directors does not:

    • Receive information about the financial arrangements made with outside fund raising firm(s) and/or consultant(s) hired in the past year.

  2. Board Size

    Number of Board Members: Standard 2

    Description
    Soliciting organizations shall have a board of directors with a minimum of five voting members.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Board Meetings

    Frequency and Attendance of Board Meetings: Standard 3

    Description
    An organization shall have a minimum of three evenly spaced meetings per year of the full governing body with a majority in attendance, with face-to-face participation. A conference call of the full board can substitute for one of the three meetings of the governing body. For all meetings, alternative modes of participation are acceptable for those with physical disabilities.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Board Compensation

    Compensated Board Members: Standard 4

    Description
    Not more than one or 10% (whichever is greater) directly or indirectly compensated person(s) serving as voting member(s) of the board. Compensated members shall not serve as the board's chair or treasurer.

    DWB does not meet this Standard because:

    • Three members out of the thirteen member board of directors (23%) are compensated directly. In addition, one of these three members serves as board chair.

  5. Conflict of Interest

    Conflict of Interest: Standard 5

    Description
    No transaction(s) in which any board or staff members have material conflicting interests with the charity resulting from any relationship or business affiliation. Factors that will be considered when concluding whether or not a related party transaction constitutes a conflict of interest and if such a conflict is material, include, but are not limited to: any arm's length procedures established by the charity; the size of the transaction relative to like expenses of the charity; whether the interested party participated in the board vote on the transaction; if competitive bids were sought and whether the transaction is one-time, recurring or ongoing.

    The organization meets this standard.

Measuring Effectiveness

  1. Effectiveness Policy

    Board Policy on Effectiveness: Standard 6

    Description
    Have a board policy of assessing, no less than every two years, the organization's performance and effectiveness and of determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Effectiveness Report

    Board Approval of Written Report on Effectiveness: Standard 7

    Description
    Submit to the organization's governing body, for its approval, a written report that outlines the results of the aforementioned performance and effectiveness assessment and recommendations for future actions.

    The organization meets this standard.

Finances

  1. Program Expenses

    Program Service Expense Ratio: Standard 8

    Description
    Spend at least 65% of its total expenses on program activities.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Fundraising Expenses

    Fund Raising Expense Ratio: Standard 9

    Description
    Spending should be no more than 35% of related contributions on fund raising. Related contributions include donations, legacies, and other gifts received as a result of fund raising efforts.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Accumulating Funds

    Ending Net Assets: Standard 10

    Description
    Avoid accumulating funds that could be used for current program activities. To meet this standard, the charity's unrestricted net assets available for use should not be more than three times the size of the past year's expenses or three times the size of the current year's budget, whichever is higher.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Audit Report

    Financial Statements: Standard 11

    Description
    Make available to all, on request, complete annual financial statements prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. When total annual gross income exceeds $500,000, these statements should be audited in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. For charities whose annual gross income is less than $500,000, a review by a certified public accountant is sufficient to meet this standard. For charities whose annual gross income is less than $250,000, an internally produced, complete financial statement is sufficient to meet this standard.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Detailed Expense Breakdown

    Detailed Functional Breakdown of Expenses: Standard 12

    Description
    Include in the financial statements a breakdown of expenses (e.g., salaries, travel, postage, etc.) that shows what portion of these expenses was allocated to program, fund raising, and administrative activities. If the charity has more than one major program category, the schedule should provide a breakdown for each category.

    The organization meets this standard.

  6. Accurate Expense Reporting

    Accuracy of Expenses in Financial Statements: Standard 13

    Description
    Accurately report the charity's expenses, including any joint cost allocations, in its financial statements. For example, audited or unaudited statements which inaccurately claim zero fund raising expenses or otherwise understate the amount a charity spends on fund raising, and/or overstate the amount it spends on programs will not meet this standard.

    The organization meets this standard.

  7. Budget Plan

    Budget: Standard 14

    Description
    Have a board-approved annual budget for its current fiscal year, outlining projected expenses for major program activities, fund raising, and administration.

    DWB does not meet this Standard because, when the organization provided 2017 budget information, it indicated that the budget:

    • Included total projected program service expenses, however, did not break these expenses down by major program category (emergency and medical programs, program support and development, field staff, and communications) .

Fundraising & Info

  1. Truthful Materials

    Misleading Appeals: Standard 15

    Description
    Have solicitations and informational materials, distributed by any means, that are accurate, truthful and not misleading, both in whole and in part. Appeals that omit a clear description of program(s) for which contributions are sought will not meet this standard. A charity should also be able to substantiate that the timing and nature of its expenditures are in accordance with what is stated, expressed, or implied in the charity's solicitations.

    The BBB is unable to verify if this organization meets this standard.

  2. Annual Report

    Annual Report: Standard 16

    Description
    Have an annual report available to all, on request, that includes: (a) the organization's mission statement, (b) a summary of the past year's program service accomplishments, (c) a roster of the officers and members of the board of directors, (d) financial information that includes (i) total income in the past fiscal year, (ii) expenses in the same program, fund raising and administrative categories as in the financial statements, and (iii) ending net assets.

    DWB does not meet this Standard because the organization's 2016 annual report did not include:

    • Total expenses for each major program activity that appears in the organization's audited financial statements (emergency and medical programs, program support and development, field staff, and communications).

  3. Website Disclosures

    Web Site Disclosures: Standard 17

    Description
    Include on any charity websites that solicit contributions, the same information that is recommended for annual reports, as well as the mailing address of the charity and electronic access to its most recent IRS Form 990.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Donor Privacy

    Privacy for Written Appeals & Internet Privacy: Standard 18

    Description
    Address privacy concerns of donors by (a) providing in written appeals, at least annually, a means (e.g., such as a check off box) for both new and continuing donors to inform the charity if they do not want their name and address shared outside the organization, (b) providing a clear, prominent and easily accessible privacy policy on any of its websites that tells visitors (i) what information, if any, is being collected about them by the charity and how this information will be used, (ii) how to contact the charity to review personal information collected and request corrections, (iii) how to inform the charity (e.g., a check off box) that the visitor does not wish his/her personal information to be shared outside the organization, and (iv) what security measures the charity has in place to protect personal information.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Cause Marketing Disclosures

    Cause Related Marketing: Standard 19

    Description
    Clearly disclose how the charity benefits from the sale of products or services (i.e., cause-related marketing) that state or imply that a charity will benefit from a consumer sale or transaction. Such promotions should disclose, at the point of solicitation: (a) the actual or anticipated portion of the purchase price that will benefit the charity (e.g., 5 cents will be contributed to abc charity for every xyz company product sold), (b) the duration of the campaign (e.g., the month of October), (c) any maximum or guaranteed minimum contribution amount (e.g., up to a maximum of $200,000).

    The BBB is unable to verify if this organization meets this standard.

  6. Complaints

    Complaints: Standard 20

    Description
    Respond promptly to and act on complaints brought to its attention by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and/or local Better Business Bureaus about fund raising practices, privacy policy violations and/or other issues.

    The organization meets this standard.

Conclusion

Doctors Without Borders USA does not meet the following 4 Standards for Charity Accountability:

Standard 1 - Oversight of Operations and Staff
Organizations shall have a board of directors that provides adequate oversight of the charity's operations and its staff. Indication of adequate oversight includes, but is not limited to, regularly scheduled appraisals of the CEO's performance, evidence of disbursement controls such as board approval of the budget, fund raising practices, establishment of a conflict of interest policy, and establishment of accounting procedures sufficient to safeguard charity finances.

DWB does not meet this Standard because its board of directors does not:

  • Receive information about the financial arrangements made with outside fund raising firm(s) and/or consultant(s) hired in the past year.

Standard 4 - Compensated Board Members
Not more than one or 10% (whichever is greater) directly or indirectly compensated person(s) serving as voting member(s) of the board. Compensated members shall not serve as the board's chair or treasurer.

DWB does not meet this Standard because:

  • Three members out of the thirteen member board of directors (23%) are compensated directly. In addition, one of these three members serves as board chair.

Standard 14 - Budget
Have a board-approved annual budget for its current fiscal year, outlining projected expenses for major program activities, fund raising, and administration.

DWB does not meet this Standard because, when the organization provided 2017 budget information, it indicated that the budget:

  • Included total projected program service expenses, however, did not break these expenses down by major program category (emergency and medical programs, program support and development, field staff, and communications) .

Standard 16 - Annual Report
Have an annual report available to all, on request, that includes: (a) the organization's mission statement, (b) a summary of the past year's program service accomplishments, (c) a roster of the officers and members of the board of directors, (d) financial information that includes (i) total income in the past fiscal year, (ii) expenses in the same program, fund raising and administrative categories as in the financial statements, and (iii) ending net assets.

DWB does not meet this Standard because the organization's 2016 annual report did not include:

  • Total expenses for each major program activity that appears in the organization's audited financial statements (emergency and medical programs, program support and development, field staff, and communications).

In addition, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance requested but did not receive complete information on the organization’s solicitation materials and fundraising disclosures and is unable to verify the organization's compliance with the following 2 Standards for Charity Accountability: 15 and 19.

Doctors Without Borders USA meets the remaining 14 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Purpose

  • Year, State Incorporated

    1987, New York

  • Also Known As

    Medecins Sans Frontieres USA

  • Stated Purpose

    to deliver aid to victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural and man-made disasters, and to others who lack health care due to social or geographical isolation.

Programs

In emergencies and their aftermath, DWB reports that it provides basic health care, rehabilitates and runs hospitals and clinics, performs surgery, battles epidemics, carries out vaccination campaigns, provides water, sanitation, and shelter support, runs nutritional programs, and offers mental health care. Through longer-term programs, the organization treats chronic diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, sleeping sickness, and AIDS; assists with the medical and psychological problems of marginalized populations including street children and ethnic minorities; and brings health care to remote, isolated areas where resources and training are limited. DWB’s volunteers protest violations of humanitarian law on behalf of populations who have no voice, and take the concerns of their patients to public forums, such as the United Nations, governments (in both home and project countries), and the media.

For the year ended December 31, 2016, DWB's program expenses were:

Emergency and medical programs 300,119,963
Program support and development 10,335,161
Field staff 9,655,651
Communications 5,485,291
Donated program services 389,130
Total Program Expenses: $325,985,196

Governance & Staff

  • Chief Executive

    Jason Cone, Executive Director

  • Compensation*

    $248,220

  • Chair of the Board

    John Lawrence, M.D.

  • Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation

    Surgeon

  • Board Size

    13

  • Paid Staff Size

    143

*2016 compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.

Fundraising

Method(s) Used:

Direct mail, telemarketing, special events, print advertisements, television, radio, grant proposals, Internet appeals, planned giving, cause-related marketing, and membership appeals.

Fundraising costs were 9% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $373,031,915, are donations received as a result of fundraising activities.)

Tax Status

This organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.

Financial

The following information is based on DWB's audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2016.

Source of Funds
Individual donors/marketing 131,487,043
Major gifts 88,452,043
Planned giving 69,535,143
Sustainer giving 30,349,980
Corporations 20,917,497
Foundations 10,402,038
Seconded field staff grants 9,792,654
Multi-year grants and contributions pledged 6,295,000
MSF network grants 4,585,569
Investment income, net 1,334,049
Contributions of in-kind-services 1,214,948
Rental income, net 204,697
Other revenues 111,690
Actuarial loss on annuity and trust obligations -465,346
Total Income $374,217,005
  • Programs: 89%
  • Fundraising: 9%
  • Administrative: 2%
Total Income $374,217,005
Program expenses 325,985,196
Fundraising expenses $32,608,630
Administrative expenses $6,314,848
Total expenses: $364,908,674
Income in Excess of Expenses 9,308,331
Beginning Net Assets 277,920,082
Ending Net Assets 287,228,413
Total Liabilities 59,161,229
Total Assets 346,389,642

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