International, Foreign Affairs, and National Security

Refugees International

A Powerful Voice for Lifesaving Action

Washington, DC


Refugees International advocates for lifesaving protection and assistance for displaced people and promotes solutions to displacement crises. We shine a light on the real problems, and make recommendations to policy makers at the highest levels that help shape the response to those in need.

Ruling Year



Mr. Eric P. Schwartz

Main Address

2001 S Street NW Suite 700

Washington, DC 20009 USA


Refugees, Displacement, Advocacy, International Relief, Humanitarian Affairs, Internally Displaced, IDPs, Refugee, Climate, Women, Children





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

International Migration, Refugee Issues (Q71)

International Relief (Q33)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (Q01)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Advocacy on Behalf of Displaced People

Public Education

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

Refugees International was founded in 1979 as a citizens' movement to protect Indochinese refugees. Since then, RI has expanded to become a leading humanitarian advocacy organization that alerts governments, the UN, other international organizations, and NGOs to critical gaps in emergency response during displacement crises and provides policy options for lifesaving assistance and protection for displaced people. RI aims to improve the lives of displaced people by shining a light on neglected crises and pressing world leaders to respond in a way that safeguards the lives and well being of affected populations. In particular, RI pays special attention to the situation for displaced women and girls as well as victims of climate disasters, where funding, implementation, and coordination of humanitarian assistance has remained weak and inconsistent at a policy level. As a result of RI's efforts, displaced people receive food, medicine, and education; families return home; peacekeepers are sent to protect displaced people from harm; and stateless people obtain legal status.

The fact that RI does not accept government or UN funding allows the organization's advocacy work to be fearless and independent. With increased organizational credibility comes additional responsibility for RI to promote changes in law and policy that will promise a brighter future for displaced populations. Focusing on the most pressing humanitarian crises, RI conducts approximately 12-13 field missions every year to identify displaced people's needs for basic services, such as food, water, health care, housing, access to education and protection from harm. Utilizing this field-based knowledge of humanitarian emergencies, RI challenges policy makers and aid agencies to improve their humanitarian response to humanitarian crises. RI's expert advocacy to senior officials of the U.S. Administration and Congress, the United Nations, foreign governments and aid organizations encourages the adoption of policies and implementation of programs to resolve crises and offer lifesaving solutions to refugees.

Since 1979, RI has advocated for lifesaving assistance and protection for displaced people and promoted solutions to displacement crises in more than 80 countries and counting. With such a track record for influencing public policy, RI has developed a time-tested strategy for continuing to serve the best interests of those displaced internally and across international borders by civil conflict and climate-related events. The fact that RI does not accept government funding simply makes the organization more effective as an advocate for the most vulnerable populations around the world – those displaced by conflict, persecution or natural disasters. Also, given that RI does not have operations in-country, field-based staff are able to speak honestly and fearlessly – sometimes criticizing foreign governments directly-- without concern for their security. RI spends two-three weeks in the field meeting with displaced men, women and children; and interviews government officials as well as meets with local humanitarian organizations. Upon return to the US, RI releases a detailed report that outlines proposed solutions and demands action. RI's expert recommendations are valued by the very people whose decisions bring immediate relief and lifesaving solutions to refugees and internally displaced people – the United Nations, the US Congress, senior officials of the U.S. Administration and governments around the world.

As an advocacy organization, it is important to remember that RI's successes cannot be accomplished overnight, they take time to come to fruition. RI measures success by evaluating the immediate humanitarian actions that have been taken as a direct result of its findings and recommendations. RI also measures the extent of improved response to the humanitarian and protection needs of displaced people. Specifically, RI assesses the following:
• Implementation of specific programs resulting in better protection of refugees and internally displaced people
• The extent to which RI's recommendations are reflected in appropriations language or specific UN mandates (i.e., peacekeeping operations) or resolutions.
• The extent to which funding for international humanitarian assistance increases for programs addressing the needs of the most vulnerable groups of displaced people on whose behalf RI advocates.
• The extent to which donors, UN agencies and international non‐governmental organizations initiate new programs or adapt existing programs to better assist refugees and internally displaced populations in countries where RI works.
• The number of RI reports and recommendations that are disseminated in print and video media, including the number of times RI staff are interviewed directly.

In 2014, RI achieved a number of successes advocating for improved humanitarian responses for displaced populations in countries across the globe. For example, the U.S. government announced nearly $51 million in humanitarian support to the Central African Republic and neighboring countries in addition to pledging an additional $291 million for South Sudan, five percent of which funds protections programs including those focused on gender-based violence. RI spoke out, and the United Nations deployed additional peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to protect vulnerable civilians. In the United Kingdom, the foreign aid agency responded to the lack of programs to address and prevent gender-based violence among displaced Syrians by providing £8.6 million in new funding. RI's targeted, high-level advocacy urges policymakers to act, and, in the end, get results. Of course, there is always more work to be done, given that the number of refugees and internally displaced people across the globe is at its highest level-- 60 million – since the United Nations began tracking these data (UNHCR 2014 Global Trends Report). This figure does not include the number of citizens affected by natural disasters, which is estimated at approximately 30 million. RI hopes to travel to more countries in 2015-2016 to make sure that the world keeps its promises to the most vulnerable men, women and children around the world.

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Refugees International

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Race & Ethnicity

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Senior Staff and Full-Time Staff.

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members and Full-Time Staff.


This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members and Full-Time Staff.

Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity