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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Relief International

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Economic Development, International, International Economic Development, International Migration & Refugee Issues, International Relief, Microfinance

Mission: Relief International responds to the world's worst humanitarian crises -- from natural disaster, to civil conflict, to hunger and disease. We are committed to partnering with communities in need and transforming them from victims of vulnerability and marginalization to empowered participants in sustainable development.

Geographic areas served: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Myanmar/Burma, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, West Bank/Gaza, Yemen

Programs: Emergency, Health and Sanitation Food and Agriculture Education and Empowerment Livelihoods and Enterprise Shelter and Infrastructure Protection and Human Rights

Community Stories

36 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Eden C.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Over the past 35 years--under a variety of circumstances, and as an American--I've worked and lived in many countries not my own. No matter where one happens to live today, these are destabilising times. Relief International is a impressively professional and effectively committed organisation that addresses extreme and immediate issues in the world’s most vulnerable settings. Never has the world's collective well-being been so interconnected. Simply put: Relief International makes an impact, not only to those under extreme and immediate duress, but, ultimately, to us all.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

Truly outstanding organization that is on the front lines of humanitarian crises worldwide. The quality of the senior management team and worldwide staff is the best I have seen in the non profit world. They operate with an enormous amount of passion pursuing the mission of Relief International and are top flight professionals. I encourage anyone who wants to support a worthy, truly meaningful cause to contribute to RI

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Relief International is full of dedicated, hard working people who are making a real difference in the world. Programs range from building medical clinics and providing pre-natal care, to kitchen gardens and food security, as well as girls education and entrepreneurship... just to name a few. The desire to make the world around them a better place is contagious. RI is also a leader in national capacity building... hiring and developing staff from the communities where the programming is being implemented. Highly recommended as a place of employment or as a philanthropic recipient.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

RI has really grown leaps and bounds over the past couple of year: A new vision for its programming approach and more staff and systems to support the delivery of its programming. In my time here, I have seen employees take forward good ideas that were taken seriously by senior management. I am proud of the progress that organization continues to make.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

RI certainly works in some of the most challenging places and contexts in the world. Field staff have such dedication, passion and skill - definitely going above and beyond. Truly inspirational!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer for a few years now, and I'm so impressed by the charity and the work it does. Relief International works in some of the toughest areas of the world, responding to natural disasters, conflict and greatest need. They are a truly wonderful organisation.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am new to the Relief International community... already very impressed with RI's programs, communication, and proactive hard work because they do it where it matters most--the most fragile places in the world.

RI is staffed around the world by very dedicated, very brave an effective professionals. I'm inspired to be involved with this organization. RI has extensive global outreach in today's crisis areas. The RI teams and programsproven make a difference in the lives of families in distress, peril or in vulnerable situations. Many are refugees, welcoming and benefiting from RI's guidance and support.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

It has truly been a most wonderful experience to be a part of the evolution and growth of Relief International (RI). I am proud to have been a member of this team for a little over three years now. I happy for the great work this NGO has done, and I'm excited that we are still growing and seeking to make more of an impact in disaster recovery and rural development in countries throughout the world!

Review from Guidestar

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've been lucky to work for a lot of international NGOs and I can say without a doubt, RI is the NGO most dedicated to the beneficiaries they serve and the mission statement that ties it all together. They have made massive improvements over the past couple of years to the point at which I personally donate to them because of the care they take to ensure every dollar goes to the beneficiaries. I fully endorse RI without hesitation.

Review from Guidestar

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Relief International (RI) is an organization that serves beneficiaries with respect and compassion. Having traveled widely to field offices as a member of HQ staff I can speak to the commitment and work ethic of our field teams who work long hours ensuring that life-saving projects are implemented for maximum impact. RI is willing to work where others won't and this allows the organization to reach those who are the most vulnerable. This is always balanced against security concerns as beneficiary and staff safety are paramount. I endorse this organization wholeheartedly!

Review from Guidestar

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

RI has gone though a major positive change over the past few years. Any long-term employee can easily testify of the great improvements RI, staff, management, and new CEO have accomplished over the past 4 years. RI is now a totally different and new organization. As a result, RI continues to grow, staff continue to reflect on their positive experience working for RI on the different employee surveys. I also donate to RI knowing that my $$ is going to the right place. RI has a relatively small number of employees at HQ compared to the size of the organization. You don't see this in many orgnizations. Decision making has been decentralized to field and regional level and the right systems are put in place for proper checks and balance. I can't be happier with the RI of today.

Review from Guidestar

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

It has been exciting to see Relief International grow so rapidly over the last several years. Under the leadership of a new CEO, Nancy Wilson, with many new faces in other senior leadership positions, RI seems to be going through something of a renaissance. The reputation of the organization has continued to rise both at global and regional levels within the international development field.

Review from Guidestar

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been working for Relief International for almost two years. I am here because I believe in the organization's mission — to serve people in the world's most fragile settings — and in the way our staff carry it out. A full 92% of all funding RI receives goes to programs for the people we serve. I am proud to go to work every day and to ask my friends and family to donate.

Review from Guidestar

3

Board Member

Rating: 1

I swear god I'm telling the truth I have been working for this organization over 3 years , they have a lot of problems , a big problems. the common problem they have always the wrong person at the inappropriate position.
Most of the people working in the HQ level and the country directors they don't have any sensibility about the people in the camps or people in a very difficult conditions only the employees working with this "profit Company" for a long term contract know exactly what I mean ... they only care about money and their benefits and let the vulnerable people go to hell that what they actually believe.The current HQ even worse than Farshad Rastega and his team !! sooner or later the truth will be revealed about this unclean place .

3

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I volunteered at RI for a year as an intern, and I generally agree with the negative reviews reported here.

1. The office environment is very negative. People are downright depressed, and employees are generally counting down the minutes to get home. I have seen people yelled at for asking questions! Some of tat must be forgiven though because of #2...
2. HR does a horrible job hiring, so the average employee is not capable of handling their position. I found many of the employees to be inexperienced while amazing talent was passed by for mysterious reasons. Remember HR that you always want to hire people who are better than you because otherwise you are fundamentally creating a more ignorant company!
3. Upper management has their hands in too many things. Like another reviewer said, it was difficult to send a letter on official letterhead without getting Farshad's approval.
4. Farshad lives a semi-exotic lifestyle while the rest of the office is downright abused. It's a very gross and dirty environment.

In the end I left because I felt that I was being taken advantage of. It was well known throughout the office that my boyfriend was a successful businessman, and I was there are a way to garner access. It would have worked, too, if I had seen the company make a positive difference. Instead we have made sizable donations to other charities.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

Thanks disasterguy. As such a new employee, you've probably not really been aware of the rollercoaster history of RI's CharityNavigator reviews, unless you took a peek before you accepted the position and decided you'd try it out despite some of the comments people made. Good for you for deciding for yourself if so.

Tell me though, it's very curious... what brought your attention to CharityNavigator-- and within 24 hours interestingly-- after the most recent negative review?

to anther point of yours, its possible to care about the quality of your staffs work without "getting so personally involved in the issues". If you cared about the quality of work, you'd empower, train, and prepare your staff to get it done right (training director does not focus on internal training at all), set up a system to review the staff regularly (I hear the CEO has not conducted a performance review with any of his staff for years), and offer incentives for positive performance (try talking to the hourly staff about that). You'd also ensure turnover was low enough that you as a C-level could focus on strategic direction, rather than lecturing your staff about not stapling every document vertically.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

As a relatively new employee of RI, I would like to make a few comments based on the two previous ones below. Over the years I have worked for a number of NGOs, and other development organizations. None are without fault, or institutional character. Organizations, particularly relatively newer ones, such as RI, evolve and identify and then improve or correct their systems and approaches and management strategies. It is an ongoing process. I have been impressed by RI’s sincere desire to improve management systems, employee care, efficiency of decisions-making and a number of other issues that were raised below as deficits. I have seen first-hand that staff care, a desire to establish and implement professionalism, and a regard for employee experience and input are sincere. I can only base my observations on what I see and hear today, not what may or may not have been the case for former employees. More specifically I see a CEO who is deeply concerned about how well the mission of the organization is accomplished, in the most effective, and cost efficient way to do this. If he gets personally involved in many of the issues (which some have labeled micro-management) it is because he cares about the quality of the work. But I have also seen that as there are more and more experienced and capable people to ensure such quality, he does indeed encourage decision-making at other levels. Yes, there are some weaknesses – there always are in complex environments in which we work – and these are candidly and openly acknowledged and the process of improvements in ongoing.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

As a former employee, based on my experience with this organization, it is my personal opinion that there are far better organizations that efficiently and ethically carry out humanitarian aid and development work. What I observed was widespread mismanagement, lack of even the most basic accountability measures, and a leadership structure that allows for the CEO to make unilateral decisions with no checks and balances, despite his claims that he is accountable to the Board. This claim is categorically false and does not hold any validity in practice. I worked on several projects and came into contact with many organizational units - none of which I felt were managed effectively. Employees are underpaid and treated poorly. There are no standards for professionalism. It is extremely concerning that the Founder, who claims to be a humanitarian, has such blatant disregard for people who work so hard toward advancing the work of RI. He seems to believe that character, professionalism, and external image are of no consequence. There have been many times I have encountered former employees and associates of RI, even prior to my start with the organization, who emphatically instructed me not to get involved with RI. The negative opinions definitely do have impact and they are not unfounded. While it is true that RI does deliver some good programs, these successes are overshadowed by the fact that as an organization, it performs far below expectations because of its senior managers who are unable to make rational, strategic decisions about increasing organizational capacity and intelligence. HR is ineffective in advocating for employees and is extremely unprofessional with regard to timely notifications regarding changes in employment status or any official documentation that needs to be provided to employees. The audit functions are completely obsolete. I would not recommend this organization to colleagues.

Review from CharityNavigator

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 2

Dear readers,

I worked with RI for about 3 years, overall it was a positive experience as I enhanced my skills working with very talented and profesional employees. However, I believe that RI's management style does not suit a company who has over $40 millions worth of projects. The founder of the company and CEO, Farshad Rastegar, rules the company the same way he did the time of its creation in the 90's. The CEO lacks of management oversight and wants to control every aspect of the organization. for instance, you need his signature for buying a stamp. On the other hand, he uses the company's project such as Horn in Africa to pay for his travel expenses and buying Godiva Chocolate is fine for him while the employees don't have a working water dispenser. I wonder why the company has a bad vibe.
I wish I could see the CEO step down and let other people take over this company and make the name RI better.
I really am afraid to wake up one day and hear that RI has gone down.
Do something if you can and stop writing five stars review because there is no such thing.....

Peace.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Please read this review about RI. I am a long-time donor and a former employee of this organization. I worked for RI for several years in various roles in HQ and am now working for a donor organization in DC. Most reviewers here have an agenda and some agendas are more obvious and self serving than others. I know of the former employee that gave a blisteringly negative review of the organization and the CEO (who happened to be her supervisor). She left the organization after making many many mistakes, not meeting performance requirements, and when she was held accountable for her work she blamed her boss for her own professional shortcomings. The CEO is not kind, he is not likeable, but he is fair and he has a track record of promoting people who perform well under pressure with a heavy heavy workload. If you work hard, follow his direction, stop making the same mistakes over and over, then you do well in this organization. People who are not able to perform well and who refuse to be held accountable for their work often point a blaming finger to their boss or a coworker. RI is no different from other offices in this respect. Also, about the review of alex karimi, the self proclaimed documentarian. I googled him and found nothing about his professional documentary film-making capability. So that speaks for itself. RI is a young and rapidly growing organization that has made and continues to make a high level of impact for people in places that other NGOs will not even touch (Somalia is just one example of this). RI is good at delivering its product. RI is not good at promoting itself.