MERCY CORPS

Rating: 3.43 stars   14 reviews

Issues: International

Location: 45 Sw Ankeny Street Portland OR 97204 USA

Mission: Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.
Programs: Mercy Corps works in the toughest places on the planet. Failing states like Somalia and Zimbabwe. Conflict zones like Afghanistan, Congo and Iraq. And countries that have endured natural disasters, like Pakistan and Haiti. In these places, a child’s life is often at risk. A woman’s education is usually ignored. A family’s livelihood is never a sure thing. These conditions threaten the welfare of neighborhoods, towns, provinces, countries and entire regions. To these important and imperiled places Mercy Corps brings relief, recovery and development. For 32 years, we have helped people grappling with the toughest hardships survive – and then thrive. That’s the heart of our approach: we help communities turn crisis into opportunity. Decades of field experience have shown us the most effective ways to support that transformation. We know that local people are the best agents of their own change and that local markets are often the fastest, most durable drivers of economic recovery. That’s why we listen to what communities need and prioritize their most important projects. It’s why we often partner with local organizations – and why our program teams are 95 percent staffed by local people. Mercy Corps approaches each challenge with an open mind and a bias for action. We listen to local people and prioritize their most urgent needs. We fix gaps to get markets up and running. We think big, start small and take responsible risks to find solutions that benefit the greatest number of people.

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Community Reviews

Rating: 1 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

What an insulting group of Americans. Mercy Corps Northwest does not serve Ex-Military service members that are disabled and live in poverty. I have gotten the run around 3 times from this group. Today was the 3rd time that I put in a request for a small business loan and was told " I am sorry but I can't talk anymore because I have someone else to call. Bye" This is who represents the SBA in Washington State? This is a bad choice to choose this SBA office.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Fire the Senior Loan Officer because she has no clue on how to treat their American clients. I would send them all back to school to learn some manners.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

None

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

No

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Badly

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 3 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

For the record, I worked for MC. I will say that MC is better than the majority of NGOs I've worked for in the past, and will also say ain't-nobody-getting-rich-from-working-for-MC. I'd also say MC's overhead is pretty darn low considering how comprehensive its transparency policies and audits etc are (read PITA for employees, good for donors i guess). I still find that MC is too much of a slave to "just keeping the donors happy" which doesn't always mean making real impact HOWEVER if you are going to give to an NGO it is certainly one of the better ones. Its a bit ironic that many that I see that are phenomenal at visibility are the more mediocre (on the ground). Lastly I noticed the guidestar rating 3 star is "meets expectations" and MC meets my (fairly low) expectations, but I gotta say after working in the sector for 10+ years, no one has exceed my expectations (ie done what they say they have done).

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Its not a question of changing the organization, its more a question of changing the donors (the larger donors). Most donation money just covers HQ costs which is needed to support the field projects which are paid for by larger donors (USAID, DFID, etc)(large donors rarely agree to cover a realistic amount of HQ costs). Large donors are quite willing to be very superficial in their oversight of actual-on-the-ground effectiveness of NGO projects so not much will happen until they push for more.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Some

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Unsure

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I wonder why Mercy Corps is not mentioned on broadcasts "if you wish to help ..." as opposed to Red Cross or United Way when so much of the contributions they receive go to people who run them.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

As someone who has worked in international development, there are two things I particularly appreciate about Mercy Corps: 1. Solutions are market driven --> Mercy Corps identifies community leaders and works with them to tackle community problems where Mercy Corps has additional expertise that can be useful in the projects. 2. Mercy Corps recognizes that there are relevant issues that they have expertise in locally as well, and has invested money in the Mercy Corps Action Center and Mercy Corps NW to address these issues. The Mercy Corps Action Center does a fantastic job of engaging and educating the public about a variety of global issues, including things that Mercy Corps addresses every day. Mercy Corps NW addresses many economic issues close to home, including business education, connecting potential small business owners to capital and mentoring, and providing entrepreneurial education to people who have been incarcerated in the past and may have a difficult time finding employment in alternative areas.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

fantastic classes and other talks at the Mercy Corps Action Center

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Review from CharityNavigator
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 2 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Mercy Corps is extremely donor-driven, and its priority is to get grants, even if they don't match its strategic priorities. Serious management issues and low performance in country offices are ignored by HQ management, like in the case of Sudan/South Sudan: http://www.usaid.gov/oig/public/fy12rpts/4-668-12-009-p.pdf

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Somewhat badly

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A little

Will you recommend this organization to others?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 1 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

My elderly mother received 2 letters from Mercy Corps stating that they "spoke with her by phone" and that she agreed to make a $100 gift.
Not only is this a complete fabrication, it greatly disturbed me since my mother had a stroke and has been in a nursing home, unable to speak, for over 18 months.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Some

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Dear Mary, We are very sorry that your mother is still receiving mailings from us. If you contact us directly with her name and address we will promptly remove her from all of our mailing lists. You can contact us at donorservices@mercycorps.org or 1-888-842-0842. Kind regards, Andi, Mercy Corps

Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 2 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I very much admire the fact that this charity, in addition to its other merciful work, offers microloans to US fledgling businesses, such as the one described in this article: http://www.newsregister.com/article?articleTitle=acupuncturist+gets+start+with+mercy+corps%27+help--1324229737--2268-- America would be so much the better if these small loans were expanded to include small businesses in all the 50 states and NOT just those local to the corporate office in Oregon. Right now so many small businesses in America are foundering. SO MANY right here in OUR country are losing the battle for survival. Without question,the plight of so many worldwide is tragic, I DO believe, however, given the current economic status of small business owners here in the US, in the case of MICRO-BUSINESS LOANS, that charity should also be given at home - all across America. I think of my niece and her husband and their two small children, the younger of which is autistic and the elder still struggling with physical disabilities resultant from a premature birth They have worked so long and hard for 6 years to establish themselves and now struggle desperately to stay afloat ,feed clothe and provide medical care for their family, as they eke out a living and use every ounce of creativity to seek new alternative sources of revenue as they wait for the core industry for their business - the stagnant construction industry-- to rebound. These young people did so much to help the community in ay way they could in donations, community contributions and so forth during their busiest years. Now they struggle day to day with no help for the weary. I hope this agency will think on these things.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Likely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 3 stars  

I appreciate all that this charity does -- especially in times of need. I hope you will support them too.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The news, I often see what they've done.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Ensure they had enough resources to make a lasting difference.

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Rating: 4 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

Thankfully, there is Charity Navigator!

Based on the Charity Navigator reviews, I am designating Mercy Corps as my charity through SurveyMonkey's reviewer board.

I am sorry to say that I have never heard of Mercy Corps but have been a supporter of Samaratin's Purse which has a lower score. I will be contacting them to learn more.

I only wish that their ceo didn't need such a high salary.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have no personal experience yet.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would ask the Board of Directors to consider reducing the chief officer's compensation in light of the global economic downturn.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Likely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

How did you learn about this organization?

SurveyMonkey suggested it.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

I have been a Mercy Corps donor for about 10 years. I know several of the staff and am frankly blown away by their work, their professionalism and their realistic approaches to development work. Mercy Corps is frankly state of the art. Most of the staff are nationals in the many countries where MC works. There is a continuous evaluation of effectiveness and a strong desire to use resources carefully. Women's health programs, education programs, community development -- each program is tailored to the needs of the community involved. There is no hierarchical sense that all communities need X or Y; instead there is a process to help communities set their own direction. In that process, communities also learn civil society techniques and objectives.

When there is a natural disaster, Mercy Corps is already on the ground and ensures that its work does not duplicate what other agencies are doing, instead focusing on neglected areas of need. One of these is helping children deal with trauma.

Mercy Corps deserves your donation, whatever you decide to give. There are other wonderful organizations out there but there are also charlatans that are more concerned with fund-raising than with services. Do careful research. When you do, Mercy Corps will be at the top of your list.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I visited Mercy Corps programs in Tajikistan and Pakistan. There is a warmth and respect that goes two ways: from MC staff to communities and very obviously back the other way as well. I was also highly impressed with the thorough security processes in place to keep staff -- ex-pats and nationals -- safe.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Make sure that the US Military does not stray into NGO territory. One of the greatest risks to MC's and other NGOs' workers is the blurring of the line between military and civilian projects.

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Review from CharityNavigator