I have no prior involvement with Operation Blessing International (OBI), but its strong showing on my recent research into hunger charities warrants a closer look.
Aspects of my preliminary research that make me want to look closer at OBI are: (1) less than 1% of expenses are spent on advertising or administrative overhead, (2) $245 million in 2004 revenues (i.e., donations) suggests a large capacity to do good in the world, and (3) Charity Navigator gave OBI its 4-Star ranking.
OBI's tagline is "Breaking the cycle of suffering." Its mission is shown below:
Our mission is to demonstrate God's love by alleviating human need and suffering in the United States and around the world. In efforts to relieve human suffering we combat hunger, deprivation and physical affliction with the provision of food, clothing, shelter, medical care and other basic necessities of life. We also help facilitate the development of healthy, vibrant and self-sustaining communities by addressing larger issues of education, food security, potable water, employment, community health, and disaster mitigation projects. In every endeavor, OBI seeks to exemplify Christian compassion and benevolence while conforming to the highest standards of integrity.
Although OBI is not affiliated with any one denomination, it was founded by Pat Robertson, the televangelist and sometimes controversial founder of the Christian Coalition. Mr. Robertson is not listed among the key personnel for the organization as of Oct 2006, though a look at the 2005 Annual Report reveals that he is still on the Board of Directors.
OBI's primary activities reflected on its website are as follows:
- Bless-A-Child: helping at-risk children to face life's challenges
- Disaster Relief: providing emergency relief supplies, water, food, and medical care
- Life Skills: training unemployed and underemployed adults
- Hunger Relief: feeding hundreds of thousands of people each year through soup kitchens, school lunch programs, Hunger Strike Force trucks, and local partners
- Water Wells & Cisterns: developing uncontaminated water sources
- Medical Services: providing free medical and dental care
Information available on OBI's web site does not allow me to calculate the percentage of aid directed to the United States versus international projects. However, descriptions of various programs lead me to believe that the focus is not on international efforts to the degree that the organization's name implies.