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Financial FAQ

Do you have a question about our finances, what we fund and how our efforts are helping? We hope you’ll find the answers here.

We take our role as financial stewards seriously. We strive to meet the highest financial and operational standards. And we also operate with transparency. All of our tax returns, audited financial statements and annual reports are available to you at anytime online.

We want it to be easy for you to get answers to your questions. We also want you to know that we’re always available to you. If you have a question still left unanswered, simply get in touch. Call us toll free at 866-756-3700 (or +1 408-249-9596 outside the US) Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time.


Obstetric fistula is a vast problem affecting one million of the world’s poorest women. And while support from Fistula Foundation helps heal thousands of women each year, we are keenly aware that our success depends on our ability to focus our limited resources and leverage wisely. Therefore, we limit our partnerships to only the most respected local doctors and hospitals. For this reason, we fund partners on an invitation-only basis. Each potential partner as been rigorously reviewed in a process involving our Board of Directors, staff, a Grants Committee comprised of Board leaders, a close working relationship with two stellar organizations — Direct Relief and Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA), and an international network of fistula surgeons who have knowledge of the reputations of local doctors and understand the specific needs that exist in certain geographic regions.

We also focus our resources on helping in the geographic regions where the need is most critical and the concentration of women suffering from fistula is greatest. These are often the world’s poorest places, and some are in war zones that significantly challenge the ways doctors can provide care for local citizens. Each year, as we grow stronger, we hope to be able to help more women in more places, guided by these principles.

Surgeons and hospitals that receive grant funding from Fistula Foundation are required to provide regular and detailed reports to the Foundation. These reports include detailed budgets describing their spending, and narrative describing their activities and services provided, records of surgical outcomes, and notes on any challenges encountered.

Wherever possible, we work to empower dedicated local doctors in developing countries. We fund obstetric fistula surgeries, training of surgeons, building of hospitals and operating rooms dedicated to fistula surgery, “mobile” fistula clinics that can provide treatment where no hospitals exist in rural regions of the world, and we fund outreach and education initiatives to let women know where they can get treatment.

Curing fistula is a multi-dimensional challenge. We tackle it by focusing on three things: patients, doctors and facilities. As we consider what to fund, we listen carefully to our partners. We strive to listen openly and respectfully to those who are in the field, working day in and day out to treat fistula in low resource countries. These colleagues have interesting, informed suggestions about the best ways to help deal with their particular region’s unique needs and challenges.

If a partner proposes to us that the most important thing we could offer them is money to cover costs for more women’s fistula surgeries, we do that. Or, a grantee partner in a war zone might propose to us that what they really need is a “mobile” care clinic, and we’ll fund that. Perhaps we’ll be asked to fund equipment that will enable surgeons to operate more safely, or provide funding to help a partner engage in outreach and education to let more people in the local community know where they can receive treatment and be cured of fistula. To summarize, we do lots of things. But it all boils down to funding for patients, doctors and facilities.

We work fast, because it helps our partners more if they receive their funding quickly. Following a few protocol procedures including Board approval and the signing of a grant agreement, we usually are able to turn around and dispense funds in a few days time if needed.

The good news is that we continue to grow stronger each year. This means that if dedicated surgeons in developing countries come to us for help, we can respond immediately. For example, when Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder of the Panzi Hospital, desperately needed funds after a major donor pulled out, we could respond in a heartbeat. Panzi Hospital remains the leading treatment center for victims of sexual violence in the Congo, including surgery treatment of fistulas.

We fund projects on an invitation-only basis, and we’re constantly on the lookout. We are in frequent conversation with our international network of surgeons and partner organizations.

While the bulk of our funding is to pay for fistula surgeries, hospital running costs and training for doctors to perform fistula surgeries, we are funding an increasing number of cutting-edge projects.

We think entrepreneurial solutions are a good thing. When our grantees approach us with creative solutions, we listen. For example, in 2010 our grantee Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA) proposed a truly unique intervention solution to us. It was such a good idea, we offered to fund it. WAHA has designed a one-of-a-kind, three-wheeled All Terrain Ambulance Vehicle equipped to transport patients where no paved roads exist. If an emergency arises, this unique All Terrain Ambulance Vehicle can be called by radio to rapidly deliver one patient to the nearest health centre or hospital. The first was delivered in 2010 to Senegal’s Kedougou region. Hundreds more have since been commissioned and distributed throughout Africa since.

The truth is that Fistula Foundation is bigger than simply funding fistula surgeries. We are about curing obstetric fistula. To do this, we are prepared to tackle multi-dimensional challenges and health care delivery system failures within the world’s poorest countries. And we passionately want to help empower dedicated local doctors in developing countries.

At this stage in our battle against fistula, because the challenge is so vast and the number of women waiting to be healed is so great, our focus is to help by funding solutions that strengthen health care delivery systems in developing countries including funding for capital projects, funding to train more surgeons to perform fistula surgeries, and one-time entrepreneurial projects that respond to a critical, pressing need or challenge. And, of course, we fund women’s obstetric fistula surgeries, and we always will.

Fistula Foundation’s goal is to provide life-changing surgery for women suffering from the childbirth injury obstetric fistula in low-income countries throughout Africa and southeast Asia. We have chosen to focus on the delivery of free surgery to these women, rather than incurring the administrative costs of tracking and following individuals over an extended period of time. To receive treatment, women and their families travel great distances to visit the hospital sites and care centers we help in the form of grant support. Our grant monitoring and evaluation program goes to great lengths to check on the progress of patients following their surgery. The doctors and hospital staff at our grantee sites provide to us regular performance reports annually. And it is through these reports from them that we are able to capture the photos and stories of how your donations have made a difference. We share these stories in as many ways as possible so that you can feel connected to the young girls and women whose lives have been transformed because you care.

Hamlin Fistula Hospital have set up their own dedicated fundraising organization in the United States, Hamlin Fistula USA. Additionally they have partner organizations in Australia, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand and Japan. Fistula Foundation does not solicit earmarked funds for Hamlin Hospitals. The Foundation is honored to have provided over $10 million USD in support of Hamlin in the last decade.