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.
Mercy Corps and other humanitarian groups are great but honestly the question is why is the US not doing more? Instead of others having to donate to Mercy Corps for resources why can't the government being paying for supplies? The silence of the white house on this is unacceptable. They should and could be doing more.
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).
Review from Guidestar
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
Review from CharityNavigator