My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Islamic Relief USA, Alexandria, VA, USA
I normally would never take time to write a review about a charity but, in this case, I feel compelled to do so.
I've been donating to this organization, on and off, for several years. I've done so based on their four star charity navigator but have come to realize that that has nothing to do with the quality of a charity's business. It only has to deal with how it spends the money it raises. Therefore, since this organization employs numerous volunteers it has earned a four star rating.
I wanted to warn anyone thinking about joining this group's orphan sponsorship program. It is a hoax, a fraud, a scam. I know that sounds harsh but that's the impression the organization has given me.
I signed up for their program after attending a conference where they were exhibiting a booth. Their volunteers unfortunately are not told the truth about the program so I don't doubt that they were telling me what they honestly believe. They told me I would receive a letter with my orphan's profile shortly after subscribing to the program. They told me I could visit the orphan anytime to check up on him or her. They told me that the organization devotes 100% of the money to the child's welfare. I was, needless to say, excited and signed onto the program.
After several months of constantly calling the organization and practically begging to receive something, I finally got my orphan's profile by email and then by mail. I was relieved. However, a part of me was confused. If they were already deducting my credit card, who were they making the payments to? I suspect it was going into a general bank account used to pay for their services. If that's the case (and I can't confirm it) then why bother telling people they are sponsoring 1 particular child? Is it more of a marketing ploy? I can understand that--- it's more effective to connect to someone's emotions by showing them a specific child than to tell them they will be benefiting orphans in general.
Anyway, I was ready to put the entire matter behind me and actually went to a dinner sponsored by them and donated more money. Then, I received another orphan profile. I was excited thinking that it was an update on my orphan! The letter thanked me for being a sponsor. My excited quickly evaporated as I realized that my orphan had drastically changed! It was an entirely new child! I was shocked! Could this be an error? Maybe they sent it to the wrong sponsor? Nope, my name was on there.
I am left confused, angry and greatly disappointed. Oh, and remember how the naive volunteer assured me that I could visit the orphan if I wanted? Not true. The letter clearly states that that would be against the rules (which makes sense to me but it does reflect poorly on the organization. It clearly needs to do a better job at educating its own volunteers so they don't "innocently" give false statements).
I can appreciate the hard work it goes into making a charity successful. However, the sloppy service I experienced leaves me with this question--- if they weren't able to properly send me a welcome letter with my orphan's profile promptly, how can I trust that they are able to deliver relief services to the needy globally?
Since first signing onto the program, I've shared my experience with friends and family. I've come to discover that many of them also never received any information about their orphan. I've also come to discover that what this organization seems to do best is raise money.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
their orphan sponsorship program but have donated on numerous instances. I will no longer be donating to them.
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Train volunteers so they can have accurate information about the orphan program. Review the process for issuing orphan profiles and make sure a thank you letter is sent promptly to all donors (especially those signed into the orphan program). Offer employees better customer service training.