NGO Spotlight: Oxfam America
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On Fridays, The Giving Table profiles a nonprofit organization that is doing good with food. To discover even more NGOs making a difference in our food system, browse our database by topic or state.


Oxfam America is a global organization working to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice. Oxfam saves lives, develops long-term solutions to poverty, and campaigns for social change.


In 1942, a group of Quaker intellectuals, social activists, and Oxford academics formed the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief in response to the plight of refugees in Greece. After the war, Oxfam (a name derived from its postal code abbreviation) continued its work, sending materials and financial aid to groups aiding poor people throughout Europe. As the situation in Europe improved, Oxfam’s attention shifted to the needs of people in developing countries.

A group of volunteers founded Oxfam America in 1970 in response to the humanitarian crisis created by the fight for independence in Bangladesh. Oxfam Great Britain provided a loan for the group, and at first Oxfam America funneled funds exclusively through Oxfam Great Britain. Originally located in Washington, DC, Oxfam America relocated to Boston in 1973, where its small staff worked out of a borrowed room in a West Newton church basement.

In 2010, Oxfam America celebrated its 40th anniversary. While the organization today is a very different place—one that has grown and changed to address both the times and the changing needs of developing countries—several things have remained steadfast: the commitment to addressing issues of injustice and poverty, and the set of core values that has informed our work—legacies passed down through three decades of staff and board members.

Program Overview

Oxfam believes that poverty is wrong, and its approach to "righting" this wrong involves four broad categories: saving lives, developing programs to help people overcome poverty, campaigning for social justice, and changing how people think about poverty.

Oxfam works to address the root causes of poverty by addressing immediate needs in a community first, then shifting its business model to support community-based approaches that change people's lives in a lasting way.

Fighting hunger has been a core program area for Oxfam since inception. In 2011-2012, Oxfam worked on several important initiatives involving hunger, food security, sustainability, and justice.


Oxfam manages offices on five continents, and through the Oxfam Condeferation, 17 sister organizations work collaboratively in more than 90 countries. Fiscally responsible, 78% of its revenue goes to program services.

Get Involved

Oxfam's Behind the Brand campaign is in full swing, and you can get involved today! Most of your favorite food brands are owned by only a handful of companies, and they can all do better to improve the food system and the lives of the workers they employ.

Oxfam is active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. Also, learn the Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Oxfam!

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