CRS is the U.S. Catholic foreign relief and development agency. I have been a very appreciative and proud supporter of CRS for several decades. CRS does a very professional and efficient job of helping and empowering people in about 100 countries throughout the world. Working mostly through local churches, we take advantage of our existing infrastructure to efficiently help in times of disaster (like the Haiti earthquake) and empower under-developed communities to be healthier physically and economically. We also have successful peacekeeping programs. For the last four years I have been a CRS Fair Trade Ambassador promoting Fair Trade (a great development and justice tool) in my parish and diocese and pretty much everywhere I go. The staff in Baltimore is very supportive and appreciative of the work that we ambassadors do within our communities. It is an honor and a pleasure to do this volunteer work for CRS.
I have been giving to CRS for over 40 years now. I was initially drawn by their international outlook and especially their programs to provide a safe water supply in developing nations. As I learned more about the organization, my interest expanded to include AIDS, micro-finance and emergency assistance. I have personally not been out in the field but my son, who is an economist, lived in various countries in Africa for over 10 years and has been unstinting in his praise of their work.
Considering the expense involved in sending staff overseas, it is amazing how low their overhead is.
I have met a number of staff and found each person to be dedicated, open and warm. Thank you for enabling me, as a member of the Body of Christ, to be present to those in need across the globe.
CRS makes a special effort to involve college students and young adults in its international development work. It does not do this in a traditional manner of providing service trips but rather educates young adults about the lives of people in developing countries and about the systemic causes of issues indigenous people face. CRS helps young Americans gain in-depth knowledge about developing countries and respect for what people on the ground are doing to improve their lives. CRS involves young Americans through webinars, media-assisted dialogue, social media, and other advanced means. They have made a real commitment to young Americans, not for fund-raising purposes, but as an investment in long-term understanding.
Catholic Relief Services continues to be critical to providing support to those in need around the world. Efficiently administrated and motivated by their deep desire to fulfill the Gospel values, CRS makes our world a better place.
Catholic Relief Services is the best agency I have been involved with. Their dedicated work to develop countries overseas is unparalleled and their education in the US is phenomenal. They also have an incredible "CRS Fair Trade Ambassador Program" - one of the most informative, electric and life-changing experiences I have had. I have shared my knowledge from this program for years now and been empowered to make simple small changes every day of my life.
As a Catholic and a global citizen, my faith practice and my vision of a just world are made more real because of the work CRS makes possible.
First, I am Indian.
Second, I teach Community Development with a Water and Sanitation emphasis at the University level.
Finally, on at least six occasions over many years, I have worked as a consultant with other both national and international organizations hand-in-glove with CRS in the field and in the mix of NGO planning at a a senior management level. I am based in Kolkata and focus mainly in the Eastern Region, including essentially, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Assam.
In summary, CRS has an outstanding reputation in my field and in this geographic region. And, my sources tell me, that reputation is reflected throughout India.
My experience has been that CRS programming in India is carried out and managed mainly by its highly skilled Indian staff. In my multiple exposures, I have found CRS people and programs to be effective, efficient, transparent and accountable. All programming involves local partners. It develops at and responds to the grassroots--to those most in need without regard to creed, color or caste.
The CRS network is countrywide and subject to audit on many levels including by the GOI and USAID, as well as its own extensive internal and partners' internal auditing functions.
In Indian disaster-management circles, CRS is well-known and highly repected countrywide for its responsiveness to its grassroots partners during emergencies. One key to that is the fact that CRS generally works with those same partners providing ongoing support for programming in such areas as health, water and sanitation, education, agriculture, infrastructure strengthening and village-level savings and banking cooperatives. As first-responders in an emergency, CRS and its partners are already successfully functional and are ALREADY THERE.
My history of involvement has led me to give the highest rating to CRS in India.
My daughter and I have had the wonderful opportunity of personally witnessing the outstanding charitable work performed by Catholic Relief Services and it partners in India.
In 2008 we traveled with CRS and visited 5 cities throughout India including Mumbai, Calcutta and Delhi. In each city we were deeply moved by the dedication of the CRS staff and its partners in positively changing lives. We were very fortunate to see first hand the life saving and life sustaining work that CRS is accomplishing in this country.
We witnessed CRS helping young children on the streets of Mumbai learn to read on a true "school" bus, we witnessed life saving programs helping young girls escape the streets of the city, we saw food and sanitation programs effectively delivered both in the city and in rural areas south of Calcutta. We also saw the work done by partners running schools, orphanages and homes for the poor and dying.
We came away from our 9 day trip highly impressed by the effectiveness and the impact that CRS and its programs are having on the poor and marginalized in India.
Now lets listen from a person who has been in close contact with the work of Catholic Relief Services in India. In India CRS mainly donates to diocesan organisations- in India these organisations are mainly known not to practice what they preach. I still think that the contributions by the church in India are overwhelming - in the field of health and education but these are mainly money spinning machines now. Ask this to any parent in India searching for a school to admit his child.
In terms of the work, I have read the reviews by some donors who seem to have the idea that CRS has its base on the ground. During an emergency (and I have been personally involved in many of these ), what they do is to rain down a lot of "expatriate" consultants who do not know the conditions on the ground before they come- at one time they brought in an intern who wanted to spend christmas out of the US. These consultants mainly have their work experience in African countries where human resources and infrastructure might not be of good quality- in India, we have the best human resources possible, trained, committed and willing to go that extra mile. What these consultants do is to just capture an office and go on typing on their laptops and work on some formats which have absolutely no use. And we believe that the huge salaries and the hardship allowance they get could go to provide succour to a few thousand families more.
Now let me relate the work of its so called partners. What these diocesan directors want is a project - so that the funding that CRS provides can be diverted towards their own selfish ends and the worst part of it is that CRS management know about it but save their jobs- they all want to be polictically correct. At the end of the year, implementation and reports are nowhere to be seen but what can be had is just tall promises in the name of God.
Staff do not say these things because this is inherent in their culture promoted by the management, I have seen CRS staff manipulating books of accounts at the partner locations.
L. Durington 11/11/2011
Dear achalaverma, We are very sorry to hear that you have been unhappy in your experience working with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in India. We did forward your review to our staff member that is in charge of all of CRS operations in India. However, without particular details, we are unable to address these allegations specifically. Regardless, we do take all complaints very seriously and have multiple mechanisms in place to make sure we are working as transparently, efficiently and effectively as possible, including outside auditors that ensure our record-keeping is true and accurate. Additionally, we have a whistle blower policy and we encourage you to submit any complaints through the online form or by calling (Toll Free) 866-295-2632. You can access the secure form confidentially by copying and pasting this url into your browser: https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/report_company.asp?clientid=12748&agreement=no&override=yes Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Please know that we strive to maintain very high standards in our operations, as evidenced by our Guiding Principles, which every staff member is expected to uphold: http://www.crs.org/about/guiding-principles.cfm Sincerely, L. Durington, Online Community Manager at Catholic Relief Services Headquarters in Baltimore, MD
I’m a summer intern for Catholic Relief Services, and I have to say that my experience here has been nothing but positive. I’ve spent over a month working here, I can safely say that CRS does exactly what it promises to do. The money they receive goes to numerous projects throughout the world. They help people regardless of race or religion. The help goes to whoever truly needs it.
My analysis of Catholic Relief Services, Inc. calls into question where some of the funds are being allocated. Non-profits are notorious for funding other non-profits, and CRS is no exception. In 2008 they funded the National Religious Partnership for the Environment to the tune of $10,000? What does that have to do with their mission? In many ways NRPE is working counter to the Catholic mission. Non-profits need more transparency, they often operate with less efficiency than tax paying profit institutions.
L. Durington 05/20/2011
At Catholic Relief Services (CRS) we strongly believe in transparency and good stewardship and would like to reply to your comment. We have no record of any payment by CRS to the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE). However, our parent organization, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is a member of the NRPE, together with other national faith organizations. As the lead organization for the Church in the U.S., we follow the USCCB’s lead on issues such as the environment. Conservation and climate change are issues that increasingly affect our work with the those in need in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Changing rainfall patterns and higher temperatures are severely affecting the crop yields of family farmers in many regions. Our country programs are working with poor farmers to help them adapt to these changes. Our Holy Father has consistently spoken out that the habitat that sustains us should be preserved and that the poor and the vulnerable should not bear the brunt of climate change. If you are interested in this matter further, the Holy See recently released a report on the impact of climate change. It can be downloaded at: http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Pontifical-Academy-of-Sciences_Glacier_Report_050511_final.pdf Many thanks for your comment.
Review from Guidestar
I have suported CRS since 2000, and believed it to be an organization that spent its income wisely and one that respected the dignity of human life regardless of income, status, or circumstance.
My parents have donated to CRS every year for the past 7 years. This morning, I received my first telemarketing call from CRS, and the caller's crassness made it clear to me that the organization does not respect human dignity.
I told the telemarketer that my father was deceased, after which the caller again demanded that I tell her whether my father would send a check. I then told her that my father was dead, at which point the caller requested permission to retain him on her list.
I contacted Donor Relations and was told my mother and father's names would be removed from correspondence, but that CRS hired paid telemarketers on a regular basis.
In 2003, I was selected by Catholic Relief Services to participate in their Frontiers of Justice program. Each year CRS takes 6 educators to a country where CRS serves in order to better educate them on the work of CRS. I traveled to India, where I met with the people who are served by CRS. There were so many wonderful experiences that I cannot share them all, but I was particularly moved by the work CRS and its partners were doing to prevent child labor and provide education to children who would otherwise be working in the fields. I visited a preschool that was built by previously warring tribes, so that their children would be safe. This project brought opportunity for the children and peace between the communities.
CRS depends on the kind of relationship building that Frontiers of Justice represents to spread the word of their work.
Each year CRS consistently provides relief and development in countries all over the world and insures that 95 cents of every dollar donated goes directly into their services, not into their advertising!
Catholic Relief Services serves communities regardless of race, creed, gender or nationality. Their development work helps people out of the grinding poverty of their daily lives and opens up real opportunity for a life lived with dignity. I urge you to learn as much as possible about this wonderful organization!
Review from Guidestar
This is a wonderful organization, with dedicated, qualified staff, who make every effort to serve their local clients and to spend every dollar very wisely. It has a very low overhead, considering the breadth and depth of the programs.
Review from Guidestar
Catholic Relief Services makes me proud to be Catholic. The organization fulfills the Gospel call to serve the least of our brothers and sisters--while teaching us how great the least really are. CRS embodies the principles of Catholic social teaching, providing a hand up, not a hand out. I love this organization! It inspires me to say yes to my own baptismal call as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Review from Guidestar
CRS uses donations efficiently, and works with people "based on need, not creed". You don't have to be Catholic to support them or to receive helpf from them. Aid is non-sectarian and based on their belief that every human being deserves to live with dignity.
It is well known that they respond to emergency situations with short term emergency relief when needed ( the tsunami, Haitian earthquake), but just as importantly also on long term solutions - micro financing, education, peace-building, securing clean water supplies, HIV education and medication, helping farmers be more productive and self-sufficient. Their goal is not a culture of dependence on aid, but a planting the seeds for a live changing, culture changing improvements.
Review from Guidestar
What a wonderful organization! I particularly appreciate their work with fair trade, the world's poorest people, and climate change. I encourage everyone to get on board with these causes - they are critical and there are so many people in the world currently suffering greatly.
Review from Guidestar
Hard to say where I fit in a as a "your role". I guess just general member of the public and fan for now. I am a missionary and am active in Haiti. I will be taking classes in the fall to get my degree in Human Services and then on to a 4 year degree. I hope one day to work for CRS. This is a group I am willing to pledge my life to. I believe that the good that this large group of people do as a whole is Gods works and that is all that counts.
Review from Guidestar
Catholic Relief Services saves thousands of lives and brings fresh water to those without!
Review from Guidestar
I have confidence that any money I donate to CRS goes to people who truly need it. I am a fan of the way the organization is set up with feet on the ground and established long-term relationships throughout the world so that money and time are not wasted when a crisis hits.
I also appreciate the way CRS communicates via Facebook, Twitter and E-mail. This communication keeps me up to date in a cost-effective and timely manner.
Review from Guidestar