Questions about ADRA’s Mission

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is the official humanitarian agency of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which established the agency shortly after WWII. Read our history.

ADRA Canada does not engage in evangelistic activity. It is motivated by God’s example of meeting the needs of people with no strings attached. The ADRA network has a presence in 130 countries, and works in harmony with a broad array of cultures, traditions, and people of non-Christian faith.
If Adventist church members living in the area in which an ADRA office is implementing a development or disaster relief project meet the eligibility criteria for receiving help, they will receive the same assistance as other community members.

ADRA Canada does not discriminate in its provision of services. It helps people in need without regard to their religious affiliation.

Many of our supporters are curious why ADRA does not evangelize.  They say, “ADRA is out on the front lines, meeting people who are suffering.  Why don’t they share the gospel message with the people they meet?”  Some are even more blunt.  They say, “What is the point of saving people’s lives with food, only to let them lose out on eternal life? Why should we support these temporary programs when we could give our funds to gospel ministries?” These are good questions and are issues that we also struggle with as we carry out our ministry to the poor and suffering of our world.

Here are some of the reasons why ADRA has been given the commission by the church to show God’s love through service, rather than sermons.

  1. Actions often speak louder than words!  When working with people of a different philosophy, religion and culture than our own, natural suspicion, prejudice and fear is broken down through loving acts of kindness. Helping a poor community develop a water system, sanitation, gardens, better health, and income programs goes a long way toward building sincere friendships!
  1. Holding the Poor Hostage
    Living in Canada, it is difficult for us to fully appreciate the lives of the poor living in the developing world. We ask ourselves questions like, “How am I going to pay for my child’s university education?”  “Can I afford the payments on my new car?”  “Will I have enough savings to last through my retirement?” People living in poverty are asking questions more like, “How am I going to feed my children a little food …. today?”  We don’t understand this kind of stress!  What would you be willing to do if you and your kids had not eaten anything the last two days?  What does it say about us if we come offering help to people living in this kind of desperation saying, “We are willing to help you if you will listen to what we have to say about our beliefs about God”.   ADRA believes that in order to show God’s love, we must be willing to help people in need, without any conditions or expectation in return.
  1. No Strings Attached
    People living in poverty are a lot like us, just poor!  Just because they may not have had the benefit of a formal education does not mean that they are simple minded!  They understand the general principle that, “in this life you usually don’t get something for nothing”!  When ADRA starts working in a remote village, the people may be grateful for the support, but you can be sure that they have some questions about these strangers that have shown up in their village!  Just like us, they are asking in their minds, “What’s the catch?”  They may go along with the ADRA program that is bringing them amazing new services like pure water, toilets, health education, agricultural instruction, and income generation, but secretly they are waiting for ‘the other shoe to drop”.One year goes by, two years, then three and still ADRA hasn’t shown any “hidden agenda”!  Fear and suspicion melts away to genuine acceptance, friendship and appreciation.  People in the village start asking questions like, “Who are you people?”  “Why have you helped us like this?”  “We want to become like you!”ADRA believes that it is this “dis-interested service” that reveals the true character of God is one of the best ways that we can “tell” about the God that we serve.  Acts of kindness that come from sincere interest in people’s lives, with no strings attached, breaks down barriers of language, spiritual belief systems and culture.
  1. Security
    Living in Canada, we sometimes forget that not everyone has the freedom of religion that we enjoy. There are many countries in which ADRA works where converting to Christianity can mean death!  Simply working for an organization that attempts to convert people to Christianity can lead to an angry mob showing up at your door!Because ADRA is known world-wide as an agency that provides humanitarian assistance to anyone in need, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, gender, economic or political affiliation, with no hidden agenda of converting people to Christianity, we are granted access to work in countries that other faith-based agencies are not.  The local employees that we hire in these countries are not only safe, but respected, because they work for an agency that is doing such a good work in the country.
  1. Finances
    As faithful as our supporters are, the donations that we receive from our constituents only make up about 10-20% of our annual budget. The rest comes from the Canadian government, and the partnerships that we have with other Canadian church denominations.  Because of our reputation of pure service, with no hidden agenda, we are able to access these kinds of funding sources, which allows us to relieve the suffering of many more people in need, than we would be able to do otherwise.
  1. Biblical Teaching of Justice
    Of all of the principles taught in the Bible, the theme of justice is one of the most prolific.  Over and over again, we are called to be advocates and practitioners of justice, especially to the poor.  In our enthusiasm to share our beliefs with others we need to remember the importance of righting the wrong of injustice.
    Micah reminds us:
    He has shown you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you
    But to do justly,
    To love mercy,
    And to walk humbly with your God?
    Micah 6:8
  1. Biblical Principle of Service to the Poor
    As we survey the teachings of Jesus we see that He had much to say about the importance of caring for the physical needs of the poor.  He Himself experienced what it was like to be a refugee.  He personally experienced hunger and thirst.  He understood homelessness!  He said, “Even the foxes have dens and the birds have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay His head.” Matthew 8:20  We might wish that we could go back and help Jesus with food, water and a place to live.  The great message of Christ is that we can!  He says: “for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Matt. 25: 35, 36  In this final judgment scene, this service to others seems most important.
  1. Biblical Principle of Gifts, Talents and Members of the Body
    One of the most wonderful features of the human experience is that we have each been gifted with unique talents and abilities.  The Bible teaches that we should each discover our strengths and find a way to develop our skills to serve God and people in the best way that we can.  The same advice is given for the church body.  We are told that while the church is one body it has many parts, each with an important function and role.  The eyes are for seeing and the feet are for walking.  The church cannot consist of just eyes or just feet.  The eyes should not say to the feet, “We have no need of you!”  All parts need to work together to have a healthy body.When ADRA was formed by the Seventh-day Adventist church in 1985, the new humanitarian “arm” of the church was given the mission to serve people in need without any regard to ethnic, political or religious affiliation.  Service was to be provided to everyone equally, freely, without any hidden agenda.  This has turned out to be a wise guiding principle that has allowed ADRA to become highly respected and effective worldwide.

Questions about ADRA’s Programs

ADRA Canada’s international projects are funded with resources and donations received from the public and the Canadian government. The freewill support of private and corporate donors also includes gifts-in-kind. Grants awarded by Global Affairs Canada are awarded to ADRA Canada based on a competitive process where ADRA Canada can demonstrate its expertise, solid infrastructure and responsible expenditure of public funds on international projects.

ADRA Canada’s projects in Canada (national program) are funded by public donations.

Primarily ADRA Canada works with other offices within the ADRA network. ADRA Canada chooses partners with local and national knowledge of both the community’s challenges and the resources it can bring to a relationship. A major consideration is the level of experience that a partner has in the area, and their capacity to carry out the chosen program, the sector, and the type of intervention required.

Each ADRA country office is a local organization that builds relationships with local communities. The expertise, insights, energy, and resources of local people are used whenever possible to ensure that the solutions are “owned” by the communities that benefit from the partnership.

Assurance is built in by wisely choosing implementing partners with a track record of delivering successful programs that make a genuine positive difference for communities.

Monitoring, evaluation and audit exercises are all part of the ongoing relationship with implementing partners to ensure positive results. ADRA Canada understands that the ADRA network is a growing and learning organization, and it endeavours to build partnerships that benefit all.

ADRA Canada believes that empowering communities is the most crucial step in breaking the poverty cycle affecting many children. We believe that children’s lives can only be improved if family life and community life are also improved.

ADRA Canada has strategically chosen to engage with the critical shapers of children’s development (parents, teachers, health workers, local authorities, policy-makers) because close partnerships with these people are essential to create lasting positive changes in a child’s life. Many of ADRA Canada’s projects are designed to help children. We intentionally choose to work in communities that show the highest need for assistance based on child-related indicators such as nutrition, health, and education.

There is great power in a community:  familiarity and support, knowledge and shared experience, a sense of oneness, solidarity and ownership. We work hard to tap into this spirit and empower communities to drive their own development, recognizing and building on their strengths. By providing them with the resources and support that are not within their reach, ADRA Canada supporters like you can enable them to overcome the barriers they face.

Many aid agencies offer child sponsorship programs. The ADRA network has developed along different lines by responding to emergencies and partnering with poor communities on comprehensive development projects.

There are some disadvantages to child sponsorship programs:

  • Cost – When they are run properly and ethically, child sponsorship programs are extremely expensive to operate; most of the money sent for the sponsored child is required for administration. The mechanics of sponsorship – which include recording a child’s progress, translating letters, and taking photographs – are a financial and administrative cost to the charity.
  • Family Discord – Sponsorship frequently causes family discord by supporting just one child in a poverty-stricken community. Focusing on individuals often means that aid agencies arbitrarily single out children for preferential treatment. The chosen few may receive extra food, education, clothes, and gifts, whereas others do not. Siblings and other families become jealous. Parents can feel frustrated that only one of their children receives help, or even humiliated because outsiders are providing things which they cannot.
  • Practicality Sponsorship provides donors with the hope that a child’s life can be changed by a small monthly donation. This is heartening to the donor because it reduces an overwhelming issue to seemingly manageable proportions. However, a child’s welfare is actually dependent on the kind of life her parents are able to lead.
  • Dependence Perpetuated The sponsored child may be constantly reminded that she is the ‘poor relation.’  She must always be prepared to show gratitude to the sponsors. On their own, sponsorship programs run the risk of fostering dependence.
  • Cultural Confusion – Sponsorship can engender cultural confusion. Programs that provide education to individual children can isolate them from their community, causing dissatisfaction for everyone.

A child’s life can only be improved if the lives of her family and community are improved; and that is where ADRA Canada projects have their focus. We have found that improving the welfare of a community, especially in line with their own aspirations and in a partnership model, makes a difference for all children, not just those few that get picked up by a child sponsorship program. ADRA Canada community projects are generally designed to foster initiative, enterprise, and independence in those we help.

ADRA Canada’s joint work with communities to improve access to their own food, water, health care, education, opportunities and justice is enabled by your generous support, and is multiplied dramatically. Isn’t it is exciting to think that your contribution goes much further than just one person!

While the funds that come in from our faithful supporters is absolutely essential for the work that we do, these funds only cover about 10-20% of costs of our work.  In order to operate the extensive programs that we do around the world we partner with other faith-based groups and the Canadian Government.

The Canadian government recognizes the importance of building international relationships through the responsible implementation of foreign aid and assistance.  The most efficient and effective way for the government to do this is to work with agencies like ADRA who have developed expertise in this kind of work and may already be working in the countries that Canada wishes to assist.

Once or twice a year the Government of Canada sends out a request for proposals to agencies like ADRA, to implement specific types of humanitarian and development assistance.  If the programs that Canada is calling for are the type of work ADRA has the capacity to implement, ADRA Canada will submit their proposal to the government in a competition with dozens of other Canadian agencies. Over the last 30 years, ADRA Canada has established a strong working relationship with the Canadian government.  Through their own monitoring program and random audits, the government has seen for themselves how successful our programs have been.  We have built up a reputation of high competency and are respected for our proven track record in the implementation of professional programs of community-based international development.

As ADRA Canada continues to develop their expertise and capacity, keeping up with the latest technologies and operational techniques, we continue to be awarded large multi-million dollar programs at a growing pace each year.  As a result of this partnership with the Government, we are able to conduct large programs in many more countries than we would ever be able to if we were working with the donations of our constituents alone.

Internationally, ADRA focuses its development projects on families and communities, with special emphasis on providing for the needs of the most vulnerable, especially mothers and children. ADRA assists those who need it most without regard for age, ethnicity, race, gender, and political or religious affiliation.

During times of disaster or crisis, ADRA Canada assists people in need with immediate relief and often transitions its initiatives to long-term development to help rebuild communities and lives.

Within Canada, ADRA Canada supports a range of services for people affected by poverty, inequality, hardship and distress.

Questions About How I can Help

ADRA Canada is a certified member of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC) and is authorized to use the CCCC Seal for Organizational Integrity and Accountability.

ADRA Canada partners with Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and is regularly audited for compliance.

As a registered charity (#132056813RR0001), ADRA Canada is accountable to the Canada Revenue Agency.

ADRA Canada’s commitment to accountability is also evident in its core values of integrity and transparency. Read our Better Business Bureau report.

Cash donations are the best as they allow ADRA Canada to respond immediately. These donations can be used to purchase relief goods from local merchants to bolster their damaged economy. This process also protects their dignity and honours their right to own their recovery. Procuring items in the region can often stretch donations further, as items are often cheaper and money is spent on aid rather than shipping fees.

While well-intentioned, goods sent to the affected region often do not match real needs and oftentimes further damage the economy by causing local merchants to miss desperately needed sales. Additionally, unsolicited goods (such as used clothing, canned goods, etc.) clog transportation routes, hindering needed supplies from gaining clearance at shipping ports.

To ensure we meet real needs, ADRA Canada provides funding for items identified in needs assessments conducted by on-the-ground coordinating government agencies and the local ADRA office. This coordination also helps ensure multiple agencies do not duplicate services or items provided.

When disasters strike, ADRA Canada turns to its Emergency Response Fund to meet survivors needs. You can donate now. Donations to this fund enable ADRA Canada to make immediate commitments to a disaster response.

Thank you for your interest in volunteer opportunities for ADRA Canada.

ADRA Canada employs professional international development specialists in its work. In country, we mainly employ qualified local persons. If you wish to have an experience with ADRA you may be interested in our ADRA Ambassadors program. We also encourage you to spread awareness of our work on social media.

This is a question that we get asked a lot from our supporters from across Canada. While we appreciate the heartfelt concern and the desire to give, sending in clothes is not the best way to help. Here is why…

Shipping clothes to Africa is something that ADRA used to do in the past but we have found, for many reasons, that sending containers full of clothes to a country in Africa is not a good solution. Beyond the prohibitive costs of shipping, the difficulties of clearing customs, and administrating the distribution of the clothes, we have found that a sudden appearance of containers full of food or clothing can disrupt local economies.

Imagine if you were living in a village in Rwanda and you supported your family working as a seamstress or tailor. One day ADRA showed up in your village with a container full of clothes from Canada and started handing them out. You would suddenly lose your only means of feeding your family!

Over the years we have discovered that while it is nice for us, living here in Canada, to have a sense that we have helped someone, somewhere by giving away our old clothing, it just is not the most effective way that we can help. A much better solution is to teach people how to sew! Once mothers in Africa or Southeast Asia learn how to make clothes themselves, they are not only able to clothe their own children, but they have learned a skill that will feed their children and themselves for the rest of their lives!

The best way that you can help ADRA do this kind of work is to give a cash donation to our “Where needed most” fund. Your gift will help improve the lives of poor children, by teaching their mothers new skills and how to start their own businesses.

Rather than send ADRA your used clothes, why not have a garage sale and send ADRA the proceeds? If you let your shoppers know what you are doing and have a donation box on your table, they might even give you a little extra! Your gift of cash will be the best help that you can give to the poorly clothed children pictured on our website!

Actually, the reality is that the more proposals and programs that we are awarded, the more we need to call for help from our faithful supporters. Almost all of the partnerships that we engage in, including the Canadian Government, require that we also supply a financial percentage of the proposed program. Over the last four years our overall program has grown every year, which means that the amount that we need to meet our matching fund requirements is also growing.  We continue to look for your compassionate assistance, even more today!

Questions about My Account and Mail Settings

ADRA Canada makes every effort to ensure we only send you information you are interested in. If you wish to unsubscribe from any of our mailings, please follow these simple steps:

To be removed from e-News: Select “Unsubscribe” at the bottom of the email.

Or, simply email with the subject line “Unsubscribe” and mention which materials you’d like to be unsubscribed from (e.g., eNews, newsletter, fund-raising letters, etc.).

Please note that because many of our mailings are prepared in advance, it might take some time before the change takes full effect. We appreciate your patience and will do everything we can to expedite the process.

Questions about My Donation or Receipt

100% of your donation to ADRA goes toward ensuring the beneficiaries of our projects receive the greatest care and benefit. To run a successful project it is critical to have proper staffing, monitoring, evaluation, financial services, marketing, office space and other varied expenses. These project management support services are required to make the project happen. People are often reluctant to see part of their donation going to these supporting services, but it is important to realise that without them, the project could not happen. For this reason, 20% of your donation supports these functions here in Canada and 80% are used towards the program expenses in the beneficiary country. To see further details of ADRA’s use of funds, please view our latest annual report.

You can make a donation in memory of a loved one either online or by calling our toll-free number (1.888.274.2372). To make a donation online, select the In Memory Of giving option, specify the amount of your donation and add it to your cart. Complete your donation and either indicate the address for us to send a card in the comments section of the donation form, or we’ll send a card to you for you to personalize and send to the family if you wish.
Occasionally, projects receive more funding than is needed, or a country’s programmatic needs change. ADRA Canada reserves the right to reallocate funds to similar activities without further notice to the donor.
All donations to ADRA Canada of $10.00 or more are eligible for tax credit under Canadian Charity Registration #13205 6813 RR0001.
ADRA Canada is happy to accept donations from anywhere. However, donations given by residents of countries outside of Canada are not eligible for tax deductions. Donations given in foreign currencies are subject to variable exchange rates and, in some cases, bank processing fees.

For tax-deductibility to be granted, all giving to charities must be “disinterested.” This means that no donations to ADRA Canada can remain under the control or direction, even in part, of the donor.

However, we do have several funds listed on our website. Examples include “Emergency Response Fund” and “Where needed most.” When you make a donation online, you can specify which area of work you’d like to support.

All donations given to churches are forwarded to ADRA Canada as a lump sum and the receipt is provided by the church. This means that your name is not provided to ADRA Canada and we have no record of your portion of the total donation. You will need to contact your church for a receipt.

If you wish to receive a receipt from ADRA Canada or wish to give a donation to a specific project, country or disaster, you must make your donation directly to ADRA Canada by calling 1(888) 274-2372, by donating online, or by posting your donation to:

ADRA Canada
20 Robert St. W.
Newcastle, ON L1B 1C6

Donations made to ADRA using regular tithe envelopes at Adventist churches across Canada are all processed through the local church treasury and submitted to the local conference office who then passes the total sum each month to the Canadian Union, who then sends the funds from all of the conference offices in one sum to ADRA.  According to the current policies of the local Church, Conference and Union, ADRA does not receive any information about the people who have made donations in this way.

Please be assured that we appreciate every one of our supporters, whether your gift is large or small!  If you would like to have greater contact with our office and receive prompt recognition of your gift, please call into our office at 1-888-274-2372 and speak to one of our friendly operators.  They will be able to answer questions you may have and recommend the best way for you to support the programs of ADRA.  You can arrange to have your gift receipted each time you call in or once at the end of the year.  You can set up convenient automatic monthly giving or large one time gifts.  Another convenient option is to give online at our website.  Our new website has new giving options that you will want to explore!  Of course you may still contribute with a check or money order, sending it directly to our office through regular mail.  Our address is ADRA Canada, 20 Robert Street W., Newcastle, ON L1B 1C6.

Whatever way that you choose to give we do appreciate your support.  We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Thank you for supporting the ministry of ADRA with your union dues. This is an excellent way to contribute to ADRA.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) guidelines do not permit us to issue tax deductible receipts for these contributions. Tax deductible receipts may only be issued for contributions that meet CRA’s definition of a gift. Here is the relevant statement from their website:

“A payment to a registered charity in lieu of paying union dues is not considered a gift. For example, a company employee, for religious reasons, objects to paying union dues. The collective agreement under which the employee works contains a provision allowing the employee to pay an equivalent amount to a registered charity in place of union dues. There is an expression of free will on the part of the payer only to the extent that the payment is directed to a registered charity rather than the union.”