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March 26, 2023

Where Does $100 to Doctors Without Borders Go (2021)?

by Anne Paddock

Doctors Without Borders (DWB) or “Médicins Sans Frontiers” in French, is an international humanitarian medical organization – tax-exempt and non-profit – of French origin that provides emergency and medical care around the world.  The US office is one of 24 worldwide offices that is governed by 14 voting members (directors), 13 of whom are independent, of the governing body (board of directors).

So, if you made a donation to the US office of DWB, how was the money used?  The short answer is that 75% of the revenue raised was given via grants to 7 non-profits in Europe that in turn used the funds to provide medical care primarily in Sub-Sahara Africa and the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Based in New York, NY, DWB reported total revenue of $649 million in 2021 (compared to $558 million in 2020) with the largest sources of revenue reported to be contributions, gifts, and grants ($623 million including $51 million of non-cash contributions described as publicly traded securities).

Expenses totaled $600 million (92% of revenue) and can be categorized as follows:

  • $486 million (75% of revenue):  Grants (primarily foreign)
  • $ 36 million (6% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $ 34 million (5% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $ 20 million (3% of revenue):  Fees for Services
  • $ 17 million (2% of revenue):  Consultation and Program Development
  • $  7 million (1% of revenue):  Other Expenses (i.e. interest, travel, dues, subscriptions)

Using the above information, every $100 in revenue was spent as follows:

$100:  Revenue

-$ 75:  Grants

 $ 25:  Revenue Remaining

-$  6:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  5:  Compensation

-$  3:  Fees for Services

-$. 2:  Consultation and Program Development

-$  1:  Other Expenses

-$ 17: Subtotal Organization Expenses

 $  8:  Unspent Revenue:  To General Fund

As illustrated above, DWB used $114 million out of the $649 million in revenue, or $17 out of every $100 for organization expenses.  $486 million or 75% of revenue was used for overseas grants.  The $49 million in unspent revenue or $8 out of every $100 in revenue was allocated to the general fund.  At year-end, DWB had $324 million in net assets in the US.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2021), click here.

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