MSF International Financial Report: Funding and Spending Rules
Every for-profit organization has its own financial sources to continue its activities that generate a financial return that enables it to continue in the market, but this is not the case for international non-governmental organizations, especially those working in the humanitarian field and depend mainly on the donations of individuals and private institutions such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) the international medical charity founded in 1971 and currently has more than 65,000 people among health workers, logistics and administrators working in more than 70 countries around the world.
The organization relies on 5 main principles, including transparency and accountability, that drives it to issue an annual financial report that includes its revenues from donors and its expenditures, such as the one recently issued for its activity for the year 2021.
To ensure its independence and impartiality, which constitute two of its five principles, the organization relies for most of its funding on the donations of individuals who give small sums of money, while the rest that comes from some governments “less than 2%” and the private sector have special rules. At the level of governments, the organization has refused since 2016 to receive any funding from the European Union or EU member states as well as Norway in refusal of its immigration policies to keep migrants from its shores.
As for the private sector, the organization rejects any contributions from a company whose activities conflict with the continuation of MSF in its charitable medical work, such as pharmaceutical companies, extractive industries, tobacco and arms manufacturers.
MSF allocates the largest part of its budget to fund medical and humanitarian missions, health awareness projects, the Essential Medicines Campaign and the Neglected Diseases Drug Initiative, followed by the necessary fundraising expenses and the expenses associated with running the organization.
According to last year financial report, the organization’s operating income increased by 2% to more than 1.93 billion euros ($2 billion) compared to 1.90 billion euros ($1.99 billion) in 2020.
With regard to funding sources, the number of individual donors has stabilized at 7 million people around the world, and they provided, along with some private institutions, 97.4% of their total budget, while the income coming from countries and public and multilateral organizations represented 1.5%, or about 29 million euros (30.5 million dollars), while sales of relief items to other organizations and the benefits of financial investments accounted for the remainder (1.4%).
On the other hand, operating expenses in general increased by 6.1% to reach more than 1.78 billion euros ($1.87 billion) compared to 2020, when it amounted to 1.680 billion euros ($1.76 billion).
In detail, expenditures for social tasks increased by 81 million euros ($85.2 million) to 1.43 billion euros ($1.5 billion) compared to 1.35 billion euros ($1.42 billion) in 2020, representing 80.4 percent of total operating expenses. Public administration, which received 4.4% of the total expenditures, an increase of one million euros ($1.05 million) compared to 2020, and the expenditures for financing “donations” amounted to 270 million euros ($284 million), representing 15.1% of the total budget.
In order to increase transparency, the organization announced in its financial report the provision of a surplus in its budget estimated at about 169 million euros ($ 177.8 million), which allowed the operational management to increase the proportion of expenditures on social tasks during 2022.
Spending in the Middle East
MSF allocated 228 million euros ($239.8 million) of its budget in 2021 to support its operations in the Middle East, including 5 Arab countries (Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon) were among the countries to which the organization allocates about 25 million euros ($26.3 million) for each of them, where MSF teams are present to provide their medical and humanitarian services.