Direct Relief is a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergency situations by mobilizing and providing essential medical resources needed for their care - without regard to politics, religion, or ability to pay. The organization accomplishes this mission by securing medicine, medical supplies, and equipment for healthcare facilities and licensed medical professionals around the world. Every day, Direct Relief prepares the most vulnerable communities worldwide for more frequent, more destructive emergencies.

In Calendar Year 2021, Direct Relief has mobilized $1.9 billion worth of medicines, cancer therapies, vaccines, PPE, and other health-related supplies, all provided at no charge to thousands of healthcare providers across the globe. Learn more about the organization here:

I will be answering questions starting at 11am/2pm PT/ET, ask me anything you're curious about.

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EDIT: Thank you all for the great questions, it's time for me to get back to work.

Comments: 165 • Responses: 11  • Date: 

fangirl_blink_67 karma

I am an experienced software engineer, I want to help the world in ways other than making the big companies money through developing software that generates ads revenue. From your perspective as an NGO CEO, how can I help the world in any substantial way?

Direct_Relief46 karma

Hi, fangirl_blink, Thanks so much for your comment and question. NGOs have many if not all of the same underlying needs to solve problems that companies have and for which software is often a solution. One of the dilemmas that exist in the world, it seems, is that we as a species are getting better and better at solving problems, but only if a commerical imperative exists. What Direct Relief does -- providing free medications, medical supplies, financial support, and generating information about the effects of emergencies and risk -- don't make any business sense. Businesses don't generally go looking for who can't or will be never be able to buy their goods and services. But, there are a lot of things in life that don't make good business sense, but make good human sense. So, yeah, we need you!

josephus1245 karma

How do you ensure that what you are delivering is answering real needs, and reaching the people you are targeting? I work in healthcare in the developing world and I see countless examples of donations either sitting unused in warehouses, being handed out where they aren't needed because the intermediary is incentivised by the donor to move stock, or stolen and sold for profit without ever reaching those in need.

Direct_Relief44 karma

Hi, Josehphus12. Great question. Direct Relief only provides specifically requested materials to people and rationalizations that are qualified and licensed in the country where the material is provided. Because of the accreditation that Direct Relief has and must maintain related to the provision of Rx medications, the recordkeeping and transactional scrutiny is very high -- and properly so. This gets down to the specific lot and batch numbers of every drug, which are tracked and traced (and will be known if they show up anywhere they shouldn't.) Certain items, such as biologic therapies can be quite expensive and also require specialized handling (e.g. data loggers in every package to ensure the product stays within the required temperature ranges.) Unlike consumer products, which are easily saleable and converted to cash, many of these products, although expensive, are not not easily saleable and really only have value if used properly. Those factors, and the fact every shipment is basically a custom order to a qualified, approved partner organization, are good safeguards. But, your concerns are legitimate and we share them, and take every precaution to ensure integrity of the charitable delivery. If you're interested, there's a lot of detail on Direct Relief's website about the accreditation the organization has, and what is required. Thanks!

the_tza19 karma

How is was your total salary, including any bonuses, for 2021?

Direct_Relief43 karma

Hi, the_tza. My compensation is published in several places, and the number (including benefits) is $507,533. Direct Relief has a compensation policy and procedures that apply to every position within the organization and is described in detail here:

Direct Relief is in the fortunate position of being able to cover all fundraising expenses, including staff salaries of fundraising staff, and also compensation for the position I occupy from a separate foundation that was established with a very generous bequest from a longtime donor in 2007. That is why Direct Relief does not use any donor contributions to pay the organization's fundraising expenses or CEO compensation.

Imnotthatunique9 karma


you talk of vaccines. Is this specifically covid vaccines? or other types of vaccines?

In your experience, within the countries you have worked, how good is the medical infrastructure/health care system for rolling out this medication, on average?

If you work with covid have you noticed any changes within those systems and infrastructures that help or hinder the rollout effort? As in have these countries boosted efforts with regards to vaccine rollouts specifically for covid?

Also you are obviously aware of anti vaccine movements popping up around the world right now. I see this mostly within rich countries with more developed healthcare systems. Have you experienced anything like this within the countries you work in? Have you noticed any general shift in public perception of vaccines in general and covid specifically in many countries?

Sorry for the multiple questions.


Direct_Relief21 karma

Hi, thanks for your question. Direct Relief has been helping deliver Covid vaccines – about 10 million doses so far, mainly to Mexico and Central and South America. Direct Relief also has been involved in Covid vaccination efforts in the US, more heavily in Puerto Rico than elsewhere because we were well set up to do that on the island. But, Direct Relief does get involved in various public health campaigns involving other vaccines, principally as a logistics partner since that is one of our core functions. Before Covid, we were aware of the structural impediments to the provision of vaccines and other temperature sensitive medications. Among other things, Direct Relief serves as the logistics backbone and distributor of charitable insulin in the Life for a Child Program, which provides insulin for children and young adults with Type 1 diabetes on an ongoing basis in 40+ countries. That experience has shown that even the availability of free medications doesn’t ensure that they’ll actually serve their intended purpose and get to patients who need them because of the practical limited bandwith of cold storage, cold transport within countries. Because at the moment, Covid vaccines are owned exclusively by governments, Direct Relief is working to boost the cold storage capacity in places that have chronic challenges by providing such items as ultra low temperature freezers and backup power sources, as well as financial resources as needed. So far, our experience with anti-vax attitudes is similar to yours. We are asked frequently for assistance in obtaining vaccines by countries that do not have enough. In the US, the issue is not the absence of vaccine – the supply is available and it’s free for everyone. In other places, the supply is just not there, yet. Thanks again for your question(s)!

imanAholebutimfunny9 karma

do you provide financial transparency for someone who contributes to your organization so they can see exactly how that money was utilized?

Direct_Relief13 karma

Thanks, im******funny,
Direct Relief’s financial information is published here on our website which also includes the organization’s policies on the use of restricted contributions and links to our annual independent financial audit, IRS form 990. With regard to how a donor’s specific contribution is used, if a donation is made for a specific purpose or emergency, the funds will be used only for that purpose and we will report on that. Here’s an example, with regard to Covid, of this type of report, which goes into far more detail than can be derived from the standard, required reports and we hope is helpful.

Bigmac_bob6 karma

Hi Mr. Tighe,

Direct relief is a top rated charity and obviously legitimate, however there are many charities that only pretend to be this way. What advice would you give to someone looking to donate to charities now order to ensure they pick charities where the money actually ends up where the charity says it will?

Direct_Relief16 karma

Hi, Bigmac_Bob! When it comes to charities and giving, the most important thing is something that no one other than you can decide -- what matters most to you. that's a very personal decision, and there are many terrific organizations deeply devoted to causes of all types. But, once you decide what that topic or cause matters to you, it's always worth doing your homework, checking out both what the organization says about itself (on its website) and what independent charity-rating groups say about the org. Direct Relief tries to put a LOT of detail out about our activities and expenditures in a very literal way and explain in detail what donors' funds are used for. But, there are many wonderful organizations out there, and I don't think you have to look too far!

RogueVogueDino5 karma

If you woke up tomorrow, and were no longer a CEO of a major player in this area (I.e. just a regular guy like me). What is the first thing you would do to be as charitable and successful as possible?

Direct_Relief11 karma

Hi, RogueVogueDino, I would love to spend more time working to help the Koegel Autism Center, which does amazing work that has been profoundly important to my family.

howtobanano4 karma

Hi, can I donate cryptocurrencies?

If not please add this, and offer support for multiple ones including less popular ones. I'm pretty sure many would be up for this.

Direct_Relief10 karma

Hi, yes Direct Relief accepts cryptocurrency. You can learn more here:

SpookyBubba1 karma

So you are fighting consequences of bad political course. If that course prevails you have to keep fixing consequences. Would it be better to change the course, so eliminate the root cause?

No offense, I am grateful and respect you for what you are doing.

Direct_Relief6 karma

Hi, SpookyBubba. The gaps that exist with regard to basic health services for people are severe in many places, including the US, and seem to be getting worse as a result of Covid. Covid has brought on a whole new set of specific challenges and problems unto itself, and it's also made all the challenges and problems that already existed even worse. So, Direct Relief's role is basically aiming at the where the chronic gaps are and also dialing up activities during emergencies, where gaps occur rapidly. The focus of Direct Relief is on the least fortunate areas where the chronic challenges are biggest, people are most vulnerable, and emergencies tend to have the most severe consequences. Much of this can be politicized, and we do our best to avoid that and adhere to a humanitarian stance, not a political one. Many fine organizations focus on highlighting these issues and advocating for policy changes. Direct Relief's best contribution is to do the work, do it well, and hope that it speaks for itself and shows that some of these seemingly intractable problems really can be addressed better, more efficiently, and with less friction. At least that's the hope and intent!

some_dude50 karma

Do you like cheese? If so, what’s your favorite kind?

Direct_Relief11 karma

Cheddar, sharp!

Kickback8140 karma

Who is your favorite band or musician?

Direct_Relief6 karma

Hi, Kickback 814. I'm biased here, it's my son's band the Roofers Union.