Frequently Asked Questions

Why only women? Why don't you work with men?

We don't exclude men: we focus on women. After all, no one is working harder to end hunger than a mother with a hungry child. Freedom from Hunger helps her succeed. Women play a key role in the family and nowhere is that more true than in the developing world. Women are the primary caretakers of children under the age of five—and these are the people most vulnerable to the ravages of chronic hunger and malnutrition. UNICEF puts the number of children who die every day of causes related to hunger at about 16,000. And of those, 11,000 are under the age of five. Research (our own and others’) confirms that mothers tend to use new income and resources for the immediate benefit of their children, whereas husbands tend to use it for larger household or business purposes. By putting powerful resources—such as knowledge and financial services—directly into the hands and minds of women, we can help the entire family.

Why do you work through local partners?

There are two important reasons we do this. First, Freedom from Hunger's most cherished value is self-help. For us, the concept of “self-help” shouldn't simply describe the type of programs we create; it should encompass our method for delivering those programs. Freedom from Hunger collaborates with local people who share our commitment to ending hunger and poverty in their country. We transfer our skills and knowledge to indigenous organizations and local people who bring a wealth of cultural knowledge to our shared effort. In this way, we can help create permanent resources in-country for lasting impact. Freedom from Hunger believes it is morally bound to use the strategies that reach the most people.

Why do microfinance institutions charge interest on loans to poor people?

Freedom from Hunger believes in sustainability and lasting impact. Programs that come to a village and then leave when the money dries up don't meet this standard. Freedom from Hunger’s partner microfinance institutions (MFIs) charge affordable, locally competitive interest rates on loans and set up repayment structures that are manageable for their clients. The revenue earned from interest payments covers the cost of operations so that they can continue to provide their services to the poor. In addition to helping sustain the program, interest revenues help fund expansion both geographically and in the range of quality services that the MFI can provide. The interest rates charged vary from country to country and are based on the local prime lending rate. Local moneylenders, by contrast, commonly charge interest rates that can exceed 100% to 200% per month on their loans. These high interest rates can trap women in debt and help perpetuate the spiral into deeper poverty.

Why are you helping people in other parts of the world when there are hungry people right here in America?

Our mission directs us to bring self-help services to the poorest people in the world. We have found that we have the greatest impact working with very poor people who live in rural areas of developing countries where there are no social safety nets, no social security, no food banks, no welfare. There are many quality, domestic nonprofits that are making important strides in helping people alleviate their hunger in America. But Freedom from Hunger's role is to work to end the problem of chronic hunger globally—a tragedy that impacts a billion people around the world.

Why is an anti-hunger organization like Freedom from Hunger interested in family planning?

Freedom from Hunger has long promoted family planning (helping women space births and improve maternal and infant health) because of the direct link between family planning and family food security. When a woman has numerous pregnancies, especially if they start at a very young age, families tend to be at a much higher risk of food insecurity. The mother's health, as well as the children's health, is compromised and mortality rates increase. Our family planning module focuses on helping women learn about their options for pre-conception birth-spacing and birth-timing and developing the self-confidence to approach this sensitive subject with their husbands.

I want my money to go strictly to programs. Why should I support overhead?

When gifts and grants are designated to specific programs, they must be supported by undesignated revenues in order to put them to work. Undesignated revenue—the funding we can apply to the area of greatest need—is most helpful. Many people count as "overhead" the costs associated with operations. For instance, travel to program countries where we provide technical assistance and training to our local partners is considered by some to be overhead. But if we don't go, the programs don't get implemented. Some might think it's a waste to spend money on translating documents and testing their effectiveness in a remote village—but that's why they work. Others say research is unnecessary; however, it ensures that we are having the impacts we intend. Freedom from Hunger operates a lean and effective operation that is positively impacting millions of people. As you will see in your research on this site, we allocate donations honestly and transparently. Freedom from Hunger invites you to use this Web site to learn more about the operations of Freedom from Hunger and how we accomplish so much for being a relatively small organization. Learn more about why you should support Freedom from Hunger with confidence.

Why isn't Freedom from Hunger working in areas of crisis such as Iraq or Darfur?

While the media focuses on these areas of crisis, we must keep in mind that the enormous majority of people who suffer from chronic hunger do so on a generational basis in rural areas of countries where there is no unusual crisis—just heart-wrenching poverty. We must also remember that at some point, when the worst of the crisis is over, programs like ours can be at their most effective, helping to create stability, a sense of community and hope. When Darfur, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia are no longer in the headlines, that's when self-help programs will do their most good. Until then, relief programs are the right answer.

You allocate 83% of your expenses to program services. I've read about organizations that have a higher allocation for programs. Should I still support you?

Yes! The standards held by charity watchdog groups vary, but most agree that program allocations of better than 60% meet their standards. Freedom from Hunger is transparent in all its accounting and meets or exceeds the standards of all charity watchdog groups. We encourage donors to do their research and learn more. Charity watchdog groups clearly state that they have difficulty measuring what counts the most: the impact organizations are achieving toward their missions. This is where Freedom from Hunger truly excels. We take the time to conduct rigorous studies and to let the impartial findings of each study or other progress measurement guide us toward greater and greater impact. When Freedom from Hunger says it’s helping families reduce their hunger, achieve better health, increase their incomes and move toward self-sufficiency, we can show you the documentation to back up that assertion.

How does Freedom from Hunger's work affect illegal immigration?

People leave their homes for many reasons, but where poverty and hunger are prevalent, what drives them out most often is the search for wage-paying jobs. This is especially true of rural people who have so few options for a viable livelihood and must travel long distances to earn money. By giving women options to increase their incomes through growing micro-businesses, they can operate in their villages and we can help families do what they most want to do: stay in the communities they call home.

What are the sources of your funding?

The majority of our funding comes from private philanthropic sources...folks just like you. We gratefully accept donations of any size and put them to work right away, helping women end their families' hunger for good. In Fiscal Year 2006, 63% of our operating revenue came from the general public (individuals, private and corporate foundations, etc.) and bequests. Another 19% came from the United States Agency for International Development and contracts. Freedom from Hunger is contracted by organizations such as CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Plan International and others to train them or their partners in microfinance, adult education and/or other services in which we have expertise. An additional 18% came from materials and services that were donated “in-kind” and from other sources. Learn more about our funding sources by visiting our financial information page.

Why haven't I heard more about your work and its impacts? 

Even though Freedom from Hunger has been around for 65 years and has positively impacted the lives of millions of people, we have a pretty low profile. The best way for an international development organization to become known is to buy advertising on TV or in magazines or to get media coverage doing relief work. We don't have an advertising budget and we respectfully defer to other expert organizations when disaster aid is required. Freedom from Hunger focuses exclusively on the quieter work of delivering quality self-help programs. We are very well known in the international development community for our pioneering work in integrated microfinance, adult education and documentation of impacts. (Learn more about why you should feel confident about your support of Freedom from Hunger.) But most people in the general public have not heard our story. We are trying to correct this because we believe that people want to know what they can do to help end chronic hunger and—finally—create a world free from hunger.