Direct Relief

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Direct Relief (formerly known as Direct Relief International) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a stated 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."

The organization is headed by an independent Board of Directors and President and CEO Thomas Tighe.


In 1945, William Zimdin, an Estonian immigrant to the United States and businessman, began sending thousands of relief parcels to relatives, friends, and former employees in Europe the aftermath of World War II. In 1948, Zimdin formalized his efforts with the establishment of the William Zimdin Foundation. Dezso Karczag, a Hungarian immigrant assumed management of the foundation following Zimdin's death in 1951. Karczag changed the organization's name to 'Direct Relief Foundation' in 1957. The organization assumed the name "Direct Relief International" in 1982, and "Direct Relief" in 2013.

In September, 2016, Direct Relief began working with Matthew Moffit after he raised $300 online for a non-profit called Child's Play in 2009. To raise the money, Moffit and friends played Legend of Zelda for about 36 hours straight while hosting a live online broadcast of their marathon. Several months later, Moffit raised $3,300 for the American Cancer Society.

Direct Relief and Moffit partnered to produce Zeldathon. The charity is meant to be promoted to other gamers who would raise money for the group. Since Moffit and Direct Relief partnered, Direct Relief Gaming has raised $1.6M for the organization.


Between 2000 - 2014, the organization's operating budget averaged roughly $11 million. Over the same period, it reported delivering more than $1.6 billion in medical resources and supplies in the U.S. and the world. Medical supplies come largely through in-kind donations by hundreds of pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The organization manages logistics and distribution through enterprise systems that include SAP, Esri, and in-kind transportation support from FedEx.

Emergency preparedness and response[edit]

Relief Efforts[edit]


Hurricane Sandy: Provided medical supplies to community clinics, non-profit health centers, and other groups in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, and mapped pharmacies, gas stations, and other facilities that remained in the New York City area despite power outages.

Hurricane Maria: First organization to bring medicine into Puerto Rico when the commercial supply chain failed after Hurricane Maria had reached land in September, 2017. After a year, Direct Relief had provided $70.2M in medical aid.


2010 Haiti earthquake: In the six months following the Haiti earthquake, provided more than 400 tons of emergency medical assistance worth more than $57 million.

April 2015 Nepal earthquake: In response to the Nepal earthquake, delivered via FedEx charter 118,000 pounds of medical aid, which included 6.2 million defined daily doses of medications.

Use of Technology[edit]

Using Esri technology, launched a Global Aid Map in 2011 to visualize channels of aid and medical material distributed during emergencies in real time. Working with Palantir Technologies, used communications data integration systems to coordinate and enhance emergency response during critical moments following a disaster. The organization has also used civil unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, to respond to disaster. Working with technology companies Palantir and Esri, pre-positioned medical supply modules with safety-net health facilities in socially vulnerable areas, flood zones and hurricane paths. Provides Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers in the U.S. with emergency medical packs designed in collaboration with the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (Cal EMSA).

Disease prevention and intervention[edit]

In 2013, launched a program in partnership with Basic Health International to screen and treat women in Haiti for cervical cancer.

Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa: As of February 2015, delivered 40 shipments of medical aid worth $25 million to roughly 1,000 hospitals and clinics in Liberia and Sierra Leone. On September 20, 2014, the organization chartered a 747 carrying 100 tons of supplies for Ebola-hit regions .

Maternal and child health[edit]

Provided midwife kits to hospitals and midwifery schools in Sierra Leone, Somaliland, and Nepal. Increased support to Edna Adan University Hospital for treatment and care for women with obstetric fistula. This included the construction and equipping of an operating theater and the development of a training curriculum for midwives and nurses. In July 2011, developed the Global Fistula Map (in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and The Fistula Foundation,) developed. In 2012, teamed up with Last Mile Health to launch a Childhood Pneumonia Program in Liberia.