Over 1.8 million nonprofits and charities for donors, volunteers and funders

2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Relief International

4,038 pageviews

Claim This Nonprofit

More Info

Add to Favorites

Share this Nonprofit

Donate

Volunteering Oportunities

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have recently completed 2 volunteer assignments with Relief International, the first in London and the second in Nairobi. I found the teams I worked with to be highly competent and for the most part motivated and happy with the organisation's set-up and operations. The work I was involved in is very progressive, and I certainly felt that I was impacting upon the lives of individuals. After 10 months of volunteering I am ready to move forward, however I would happily return to Relief International in the future.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been donating to Relief International for the past 5 years and have always had a pleasant experience but even more so in the past 2 years.
RI is active in over 25 countries which is of importance to me because I like to help globally but would rather do so through one organization that I trust instead of researching for a reputable organization each time I’d like to donate to a new country. Even so, I frequently have questions prior to donating to a project which I have not contributed to in the past. I have contacted RI’s headquarters office on several occasions to ask these questions and voice concerns and every time my questions were patiently answered by a philanthropy associate who explained what the projects mission was and how my money will be used.
I try to make quarterly contributions and receive acknowledgement of my donation with-in two weeks. Yet, I always loose one or two letters through-out the year and need to contact RI for duplicate copies before filing taxes. This process has always been quick and easy, they e-mail me copies of the letters to have right away and I receive the hard copy by mail with-in one week. It is a great assurance to know that the NGO I am donating to is organized and that my money does not fall through the cracks.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In response to the recent comments here, I’d like to bring forth some points I feel are important for readers to consider. I am an aid worker and have had professional interactions with Relief International and feel it is important to stress the overall environment for international NGO’s.
In order to analyze the critiques made objectively, we must realize that the field of International Development is EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE (for individuals as well as organizations). More and more individuals are increasingly attracted to the NGO field as many of us dream of helping people and changing the world. What we fail to consider is, unfortunately, jobs are limited in relation to demand and thus are very competitive.
On the other hand organizations, must also deal with this competition. In order to be competitive in the industry, respected and trusted by funders, partners, governments and the public the margin of error for organizations is very low. This results in a heightened sense of pressure and elevated standards for individuals in these organizations.
With this in mind, I am fully confident in donating to Relief International and have personally seen the life-changing differences the organization has made for the people it serves. They have 20 years of experience (not to mention devotion) and have helped shape this industry for the better and have set high standards for other organizations to strive for. Charity Navigator, an unbiased and trusted evaluator of both national and international NGO’s, has ranked them among top 3 in international relief and development charities.
The organization’s overhead (amount of money per each donation spent towards administrative costs) is merely 10% on all donations. A low overhead such as this means that more money is spent directly supporting the organizations programs, so in the case of Relief International 90% of donations are then funded directly to initiatives in the field. This along with the fact that Relief International partners with local NGO’s and works to implement sustainable programs –meaning programs that beneficiaries can manage long after the organizations man power is gone are reasons I truly admire RI. At the end of the day the people that NGO’s help are what matter.

I urge everyone to evaluate any organization they are planning on donating to by researching the achievements and impact the organization has had on the countries and the people it serves with its programs.

Review from CharityNavigator

Donor

Rating: 5

I just read the complaint by the ex-employee of RI. I know from my own personal experience that RI is not as organized as it gives the impression. I am a documentary filmmaker and would very much like the ex-employees who have any complaints about RI to contact me for an interview. I will personally follow through and invite Mr. Rastegard and his staff to defend themselves and explain why they reject the claims made. email me akarimila@yahoo.com

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Dear Ex-Employee of RI and Readers:

If there is any suspicion or misperception of wrongdoing there is nothing more damaging than letting it linger. Charity Navigator’s objective ranking lists Relief International as 2nd among hundreds of charities in international relief and development not because we raise the most money but because of our high accountability and transparency practices. This includes a robust and confidential accountability and reporting mechanisms to the Board that protects whistle blowers and covers the widest range of actions including those by senior managers and executives. That the complainant has chosen not to use any of those constructive mechanisms and rather has elected to use a very negative public statement only raises questions of its own. Nevertheless RI’s Internal Audit mechanism is such that it has a direct reporting line to the Board and as such the very comments below have been communicated in their entirety to our Board’s relevant Committees and Ombudspersons. RI’s Board which is fully independent of the management has several committees (Audit, Finance, HR, etc.) that independently and/or in combination can review allegations of misconduct and decide on corrective steps.

The allegations below touch on three issues:

a) CEO Management Style: While few charities may be run for the benefit of people who work in those organizations, Relief International, as with most other professional non-profits is run as a public interest organization. Meaning, our charity is directed at the people we serve and the funds trusted to us by the public and the donor community are for the benefit of these communities and not to guarantee jobs at the organization. While we treat our employees with the most generous health and other benefits packages and our salaries are modest by industry standards. Our organizational culture is defined by one of respect and of rewarding good work and not tolerating repeat slackers or non-performers.

To the extent that the negative comments below are directed at one and only one person I can suggest that no one person at Relief International or any other organization of this size and complexity is that significant to be the cause of so much bad or good. The complainant claims that her only concern is the CEO and that the organization’s work is “tremendous and inspiring, so I hesitate to focus this critique as wholly negative. The mission and aim of the organization is one that undoubtedly helps disenfranchised communities across the world - this I have no issue with and fully support.” Therefore it is alarming and contradictory that the complainant ranks the organization as the lowest in all the categories noted (with a score of 1” out of 5).

b) Comments on Charity Navigator: In response to a previous unsubstantiated negative comment posted on Charity Navigator, our Donor Relations Officer was directed by Charity Navigator itself to generate positive comments as the ONLY means available by Charity Navigator to organizations to counter a negative comment. We have communicated to Charity Navigator our concern that while it purports to have and promotes itself an “objective” ranking system, its comments section - which is actually that of a third party and only hosted by Charity Navigator - is in fact a subjective platform that does no fact-checking or review. Nor does Charity Navigator include a visible notice to readers that these comments are not part of Charity Navigator’s own site. As such this contradicts the essence of the public trust put in Charity Navigator as an objective ranking system. That Charity Navigator’s only suggested recourse is the active posting of positive comments by the organization is a matter that we encourage all to bring to the attention of Charity Navigator as has RI. We recognize as laudable that Charity Navigator is constantly upgrading and improving its systems and we are sure that Charity Navigator will take such public comments into consideration.

c) Vendor vs. Sub-recipient Determination: The complainant seems to allege wrongdoing here. To be sure in developing this process RI conducted a wide search of the existing best practices among peer organizations. Since I was personally involved in this process (as was the complainant) I say with confidence that RI’s established process is not only in compliance with USG regulations but is a stricter form compared to the norm. RI requires two senior managers from different department to attest to the results of the determination compared to the norm of just one reviewer. In addition, we took the step of having our external auditors of record, who audit the largest number of international non-profits review our proposed process before it was adopted to ensure full compliance with regulations. These are facts that the complainant either ignores or just was inattentive to. Again, that the complainant chose to present this accusation in a public platform that does not conduct fact-checking rather than bring this to the attention of the Board’s Audit and/or Finance Committees who would certainly examine the facts speaks for itself. Regardless, RI management has forwarded this and all the complainant’s comments in their entirety to the Board for review in line with our policies and practices of accountability and transparency.

Sincerely,

Farshad Rastegar, PhD
President & CEO
Relief International

1

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I hope this review does not appear completely negative, but rather establishes an eye-opening view into the organization's pitfalls and illustrates the need to urgently make changes in its executive management structure. Bottom line is…RI’s future, legacy, effectiveness and longevity are at stake and this needs to be addressed and resolved immediately.

The work RI does is tremendous and inspiring, so I hesitate to focus this critique as wholly negative. The mission and aim of the organization is one that undoubtedly helps disenfranchised communities across the world - this I have no issue with and fully support.

My problem arises when attempting to understand and accept the internal mechanism within RI, notably the way in which employees are treated by a particular senior executive (the CEO/Founder Farshad Rastegar).

RI needs to improve on in its effectiveness and start outwardly appreciating and retaining the highly-motivated, dedicated and educated people within its staff. This is for the good of the organization. Currently, there is a systematic culture of fear, and a high-level of toxicity resulting in a severely hostile work environment; thus the reasons for the large attrition rate and constant overturning within the ranks. I have had numerous discussions with people who have departed over the course of a year and discovered the 'why' to many of their departures; the result has been that in 88% of the cases the departure reason is due to the person having either direct or indirect communication with Farshad Rastegar and how he treats them was the #1 issue. Farshad has a deluded sense of reality of how he is viewed within all tiers of the organization as well as the insurmountable lack of respect he holds amongst his ranks. This lack of respect is a by-product of his constant ‘bullying’ behavior and threatening communication to his employees. (There are countless first-hand encounters reflecting this claim [in emails, Skype conversations etc.] by myself and those who have left the organization within the last year)

In addition, there is a reason why after a negative review left in March of 2012 on charitynavigator.com has had numerous and spontaneous April 2012 5 and 4-star reviews…Farshad Rastegar explicitly directed his staff to write positive reviews on the website to counter the effects of the negative review. Is this the way an organization should be run? Like a Stalin-era dictatorship where any negative feedback is immediately rejected by forcing staff members to write good reviews for the sake of writing more positive reviews to cover the truly honest one written in March of 2012? It gives me a visceral feeling indeed. Farshad’s management style is appalling, and a respectable leader would never behave like this. He even went so far as attempting to have charitynavigator.com delete the negative post but to no avail, what are you hiding Farshad? I seriously recommend he read the following article to understand how to improve his methods:

http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/8-core-beliefs-of-extraordinary-bosses.html

Additionally, Farshad fits into each of these categories:

http://blog.eonetwork.org/2012/06/3-horrifying-bosses/

I feel as though RI employees should be sent to this seminar:

http://www.regonline.com/Register/Checkin.aspx?EventID=1108632

Since joining RI, I have had the disappointment in experiencing first-hand and by way of witnessing others' interactions with Farshad, an extremely toxic, hazardous and fearful work environment. There is a constant deficit of respect and an utter disregard for the human component, both which have surmounted any of my previous experiences with leadership styles in other organizations. This simply cannot be a way for an organization to function, and it cannot be sustainable or else RI risks the continuous exodus of its staff. It was even noted in an email from Farshad to a Director here in RI in July of 2012, that ‘those staff who can make it to the two-year mark are the cream of the crop and worthy of being an RI employee.’ So is Farshad stating that those who do not put in two years of work are worthless and unfit to be a member of RI? It is a repulsive assertion by him.

Farshad is constantly contradicting himself when giving guidance or having so-called SOPs that are basically him saying he remembers himself giving guidance months ago so it should be followed despite the fact that he refuses to sign off on codified processes or procedures. He is a megalomaniac, micromanager and cannot surrender any hint of control or power to those who have been hired to improve the organization.

It is a shame that RI has such a revered mission statement that helps those who need it most. Unfortunately, in most of RI’s private donations, donor misappropriation is happening at an expedited pace. Afterone reviews RI's BVAs (budget vs. actual) for several of its private donations, it is clear that many superfluous charges are attached to projects that should not have taken place; i.e. flights for personnel who have had no dealing with that particular grant, labor time for employees who have no relevant or justifiable reason to allot their time to the grant etc.

I reiterate that this review has not been a singular effort, I have been approached, as well as reached out to others within RI, and the statements above are a compilation of the issues abound in RI. Unfortunately, no action can be taken by any of our superiors/supervisors as all the issues stem from the interactions, decisions and treatment by Farshad Rastegar. If he were to be replaced, or at the very least a Chief of Staff put in place to buffer Farshad’s daily interaction with the rest of the staff, then can RI finally attempt to build a future that employs loyal, hard-working and intelligent staff members who WANT TO STAY AT RI.

In addition to this clearly intolerable treatment of staff by Farshad, RI is purposefully misclassifying sub-recipients and local partners as vendors to avoid the $25,000 cap per year on their US Government and USAID sub-contracts and sub-agreements, as dictated in the NICRA letter RI received in December 2011. Farshad Rastegar has dictated that RI creates a vendor determination checklist on April 18, 2012. Direct guidance was given by him to always take a default position when it comes to classifying these partners; he told his staff to assume that everyone is a vendor since USAID takes the default position that everyone is a sub-recipient. The vendor checklist is to validate this determination, but we are instructed to falsely complete this checklist to ensure these partners are seen as vendors even if they are clearly not. In summary, RI is trying to take as much NICRA as possible on these contracts and the staff at RI feels we are not being forthcoming or honest in the way our proposals and realignments are being calculated.

Donor

Rating: 5

I donated to RI for a mother's day campaign and my family has donated via its church, which had selected RI as a destination for its international fundraising support one year. For us, it was a way to help support projects with women and girls. For the church they liked the type of programming that was well described on the website, and that it was community based. We and the church liked that RI tried to keep routine updates about their work via the website. This helps us understand more about the work itself and how it can be hopeful - most of the news is very dire. We were also able to direct questions to the RI office, and had the opportunity to talk to real people about the project and how our donation was helping. We appreciated having someone take time to talk with us.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am currently volunteering for Rellief International. All I can say is that I am impressed for the trust I have received from the organisation from the first minute. I have been volunteering and working for other INGOs and I find that Relief International is very professional and has a great team. I particularly like its holistic approach and its orientation towards the beneficiaries having much of the staff in the field.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Relief International has a wonderful work dynamic and is full of dedicated, passionate, and knowledgeable practitioners of development work and humanitarian aid. This is the whole package for interns looking to gain well-rounded experience in the field. In my day-to-day activities I come into contact not only with my own department (Executive), but also with Programming, Philanthropy, Finance, etc. The senior management team is accessible which is awesome, because they can offer insightful advice for moving forward with your career, and they truly want you to succeed. The best thing about interning for RI is that you come to understand how a non-profit organization operates, and you get the feeling that we’re all working for a similar purpose. We’re a team, and one person’s well-being contributes to the organization’s success as a whole. Having the opportunity to meet so many enthusiastic people who come from various backgrounds and levels of experience, but who are all connected by their genuine commitment to saving lives and sustaining livelihoods is rare. Having interned and worked in many capacities prior to joining RI, I can honestly say you would be hard-pressed to find diversity like this blended so compatibly elsewhere.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Interning at Relief International has been a truly gratifying experience. Interns at Relief International get to take part and have direct impact upon the organization's work. Interning here has really helped me determine what my passions are and what role I want to have in changing the world through humanitarian work, while further developing my skills. Relief International is now an organization I look up to as setting the bar in humanitarian relief and development work.

Review from CharityNavigator

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have some experience with various types of humanitarian organizations--including for-profit, hybrid and nonprofit--and I also interned at Relief International (at the HQ office in Los Angeles). What I like most about RI, is that the organization truly creates all of its programming with sustainability in mind--this is what makes RI fundamentally great. The goal with programming is to ultimately leave the project in the hands of the community (which should be the goal of every developmental organization, in my opinion). I really just want to emphasize this point, as "band-aid" charity organizations are, unfortunately, too common. And for the prospective intern, this is definitely the place to gain real, applicable nonprofit experience with many opportunities for creativity.

Review from CharityNavigator

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Relief International thinks outside the box, and values providing programs that engage the community in their design. RI is also non-political and non-sectarian, empowering communities by allowing them to inform the design and implementation process based on their own culture, needs and worldview.

Review from CharityNavigator

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Gelman Rosenberg & Freedman has been the principal auditing firm for RI for the past twelve years. In ensuring a professional and independent relationship with RI, we have rotated the principal audit partner (and manager) position during this period of time. RI has also proactively sought proposals from other auditing firms during our engagement period, and the Audit Committee of the Board (independent of RI management) has qualitatively re-engaged Gelman Rosenberg & Freedman. All members of our staff are independent of RI and do not have any conflicts of interest with members of RI staff.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 3

I have had a good internship with Relief International. I spent two months in north Darfur and I worked, as volunteer, about management of severe and acute malnutrition among children under 5 years old. I passed all my time in Zamzam camp that is located near El Fasher. In this camp are assisting almost 200.000 internally displaced people fleeing from war that is bringing death and destruction since 2003.
My experience was very interesting. I worked very hard and closely with local field staff. They gave me a big support to understand everything. At the same time, my supervisor, Nutrition Coordinator and National Country Director gave me all the instruments to improve my abilities and my skills. Every day, they supported me with responsibility and energy.
What I did during my internship met my expectations, but I am aware that I need to continue to improve my skills. For this reason I could be very happy if there are some possibilities to continue to work with Relief International. RI is very dynamic organization and I like very much its approach.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Relief International welcomes and values feedback from its stakeholders and the community at-large. However, the statement made in reference to our governance, external audit oversight and management is utterly false, misleading and malicious.

Relief International’s Board is independent of the management and none of the Board members have any personal, business or other relations with any member of staff or management. The Board has multiple active committees including, Audit, Finance, Human Relations, etc. Relief International’s external auditors of record are selected by the Board. The Audit Committee of the Board has a direct line of communication with the Auditors independent of management. Relief International’s Human Resources Office and the Board Ombudspersons have not received any official or unofficial notice nor witnessed indications to support the allegations made in the comment above. Human Resources also has no record of a volunteer with the referenced name “alanharvard9”.

Charity Navigator’s own objective criteria provide Relief International its coveted four star charity rating. More importantly as related to the accusations made by “alanharvard9”, Charity Navigator’s objective criteria of “accountability, transparency, governance and management practices” provide Relief International with a perfect score of 70 out of 70. In Charity Navigator therefore Relief International ranks among the top 2 out of 213 charities in the relevant category of organizations that offer international development and relief services. We regret that Charity Navigator, an organization that aims and claims to serve as an objective rating and evaluation source, has not put in a system in place where subjective comments are minimally vetted and/or verified.

In this case the comments are contradicted by Charity Navigator’s own objective valuation and as such Charity Navigator is knowingly presenting false information. Minimally, we urge Charity Navigator to include a disclaimer to clarify that public comments are not vetted and to adopt the industry standard and clear notice of “transition to another site” when linking to public comments that are indeed hosted by another organization distinct from Charity Navigator, in order to not confuse readers with the false impression that the subjective information presented here enjoys the same standards of valuation and review as do other objective criteria in Charity Navigator’s site.

To the extent that the integrity of our external auditors, our Board and our CEO was called into question we welcome all to contact the following for more information:

Relief International Auditors:
RI’s external auditors of record are Gelman, Rosenberg & Freedman (www.grfcpa.com/), one of the largest global audit firms specialized in International NGO auditing.
www.grfcpa.com/contact-us
301.951.9090

Relief International’s Board Ombudspersons:
Ms. Deborah Senior and Ms. Irene Wurtzel
ombudsperson@ri.org

Relief International’s CEO:
Farshad Rastegar, PhD
ceo@ri.org

Thank you,

Relief International Outreach Team