Finance and earmarking
How is money from donors used by the ICRC and what sort of operations is it earmarked for?
Where can I find out about the cost of the ICRC’s work and how it’s financed?
Please see the Where does your money go? and Finances and budget sections. You can also read our latest Annual Report online (available in English only).
Where does my money go?
The ICRC undertakes to allocate your donation in its entirety to the operation that you have chosen. The cost of the operational support provided by Geneva headquarters to the field delegations is calculated at 6.5% of the delegation's expenditure. In other words, from a donation of 100 Swiss francs, 93.50 francs are used directly to finance our field operations to protect and assist people affected by armed conflict and other violence.
What is the amount of administrative costs at the ICRC?
There is no agreed-upon definition of the concept of administrative costs for international organizations. The ICRC has therefore taken the US fiscal and accounting criteria applicable to international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as its yardstick.
In 2009, for example, the ICRC's administrative costs (calculated using the method mentioned above) represented 9.69% of total operational expenditure. The costs considered to be "administrative" are the cost of the headquarters units, i.e. the president's office, the directorate, human resources, fundraising, finance and administration, information systems and archives. Note: administrative costs do not affect the way in which your donation is used – it will be allocated directly to the field operation of your choice.
How can I make sure my donation benefits the ICRC as much as possible? Can I specify the country, region or village where my donation will be used?
The ICRC promises to use your donation for the operation you choose. To help you make your choice, we provide a list of those countries where the ICRC is conducting its principal activities during the current year and for which we still need funds. You may also choose a programme of a more global nature. Note: if you specify a sphere of activity or programme which is not listed, the ICRC reserves the right to assign your donation to an operation of its own choosing.
In addition, we cannot accept donations for a specific school, village or group of individuals. Your donation will help to meet all the needs in the conflict zone specified, but your choice is restricted to a country or type of activity. Experience has shown that the more restrictive the earmarking policy (tying donations to a particular area, programme, project or category of person, etc.), the more limited the ICRC’s operational flexibility, to the detriment of the people we are trying to help, and additional administration is also involved.
Our donation forms therefore give you the option of choosing one country or type of activity.
Can I ask the ICRC to fund a project?
No. The ICRC is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of the victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence around the world and to provide them with assistance. We use the voluntary contributions of our donors to finance those activities. It is therefore not possible to use those donations for any other purposes. The ICRC can only provide resources in cash or kind for individuals or associations as part of its own projects.