GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 52-1662800


USA for UNHCR protects refugees and empowers them with hope and opportunity. \r\n \r\nEstablished by concerned American citizens, USA for UNHCR is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Ruling year info


Principal Officer

Ms. Suzanne Ehlers

Main address

1310 L ST NW Ste. 450


Show more contact info



Subject area info

Disaster relief

Right to free movement and asylum

Multilateral cooperation

Population served info

Immigrants and migrants

Refugees and displaced people

NTEE code info

International Relief (Q33)

United Nations Association (Q42)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Refugees are people whose lives have been torn apart when violence arrives on their doorstep or when they are persecuted for their religious or political beliefs. More than 50% of all refugees are children. \r\n\r\nRefugees are driven from their homes and communities by factors outside their control. It happens so fast. Quite literally, refugees are people running for their lives.\r\n\r\nVoiceless and without an advocate, most often grabbing only the things they can carry, refugees are the world\u0027s most vulnerable people.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

Emergency Relief and Response

USA for UNHCR supports operations on the frontlines of conflict, working with refugees and others displaced people, often in remote and dangerous parts of the world.

In an emergency, UNHCR sends relief supplies and deploys its highly trained staff anywhere in the world, at any given time. Often, UNHCR is managing multiple emergencies at the same time.

Because of the commitment of dedicated USA for UNHCR donors, the UN Refugee Agency is able to deploy within 72 hours of a large-scale emergency, and jumpstart relief and protection assistance.

UNHCR staff is trained to work under intense pressure and in incredibly challenging conditions. Together with our partners, we ensure refugees have what they need to survive – shelter, medical care, food, water, and special protection and care for vulnerable children and women, including prevention and response to sexual violence.

UNHCR works closely with partner organizations—supporting their vital work to supply clean water and nutritious food, set up sanitation programs and ensure refugees have access to emergency and basic health care services.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants

One of the most effective and sustainable ways to help vulnerable refugee families is with regular monthly cash assistance. Traditionally, aid to refugees has been delivered primarily through in-kind support, but today 85% of the world’s displaced people live in cities, not in camps. In 2012, UNHCR launched the pilot cash assistance program, Lifeline, that responded to the unique needs of Syrian refugees living in urban sections of Jordan. Lifeline was a resounding success – and with support from USA for UNHCR donors, more than 137,000 refugees living in Jordan were receiving cash assistance by 2015.

Building on the success of Lifeline, UNHCR expanded cash assistance programs to refugees in the Middle East region – now, more than 150,000 Syrian refugees living in Lebanon are also receiving monthly cash assistance.

Beyond the Middle East, cash assistance programs have expanded to help refugees in Kenya, Yemen, Somalia and Mexico.

Cash assistance programs are secure, efficient and preserve refugees’ dignity by offering them choice.

Cash assistance is a secure. Refugees are thoroughly screened before they are approved to receive cash assistance. In person interviews are conducted to establish eligibility and once approved, cash assistance is delivered through the use of iris scans at ATMs linked to UNHCR’s biometric registration system. Existing banking technology combined with the biometric registration achieves a secure method for delivery that is virtually fraud proof.

Cash assistance is efficient. Distribution costs are a modest 3% and cash is delivered through local ATMs.

Cash assistance preserves dignity. With cash assistance, refugee families have choice and they infuse new money into their host communities. Cash assistance allows refugees to pay rent and ensure the health of their children. No longer do refugees have to choose to pay rent and forgo food, medicine or education for their children. In fact, 91% of families use the cash assistance on rent.

Cash assistance is an effective, efficient and sustainable way to address refugee families’ long-term needs.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants

Where we work


Data and Analytics Growth 2019

ANA Genius Awards

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Annual revenue

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Number of Total Gifts

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

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

USA for UNHCR aims to protect and empower refugees and provide solutions that create hope, restore dignity and help rebuild lives.

Doubling Our Resources to Triple Our Impact \u2014 We are committed to funding transformational initiatives for millions of refugee families \u2014 leading a movement in the United States on behalf of refugees. USA for UNHCR raises awareness, educates and engages citizens, media and other thought leaders on the many roles Americans can play to improve the lives of refugees at home and overseas. \r\n\r\nExpanding Volunteer Leadership to Drive Innovation \u2014 We are accelerating volunteer\r\nengagement at the highest levels. For example, USA for UNHCR was the partner of choice for top-tier initiatives such as the 2016 Partnership for Refugees, an initiative established to support a Call to Action from the White House for the private sector to make new, measurable and significant commitments with a durable impact on the well-being of refugees. This new wave of private sector leadership delivers the capacity, ingenuity and innovation needed to produce breakthrough solutions for this global issue\u2014from targeted councils to convening entrepreneurs, innovators and design experts. \r\n\r\nBecoming a \u0027Digital First\u0027 Organization and Developing Awareness Raising and Advocacy Tools \u2014 We are dedicated to raising awareness and impact in order to accelerate the pace of change around engagement, policy and technology based-solutions for refugees. Using micro-targeting and other innovative strategies, the Hive, a special projects unit of USA for UNHCR, has identified a community of more than 14 million Americans, untapped influencers from all walks of life who are primed to lend their voices to the global refugee crisis. These new voices can help USA for UNHCR change perceptions of the refugee cause at the community and national level.\r\n\r\nCreating a Voice for Refugees \u2014 We advocate and campaign for better services, practices, policies and enhanced community understanding around the refugee crisis by increasing our brand recognition, strengthening our profile as a thought leader on refugee issues and engaging with influencers, partners and grassroots networks to help tell the refugee story. We work to make the U.S. a more welcoming place by educating Americans about the refugee crisis, leading a movement to build awareness, acceptance and support for refugees and amplifying the experiences of refugees worldwide.\r\n\r\nScaling Up Support for UNHCR Programs and Funding Transformational Initiatives \u2014 Innovation is a core value for USA for UNHCR. We are committed to engaging the best minds and most dynamic entrepreneurs to help develop creative, scalable, life-changing solutions to the challenges facing refugees. At the same time, we want to shine a light on important issues facing refugees.

USA for UNHCR\u0027s staff of 45 includes employees with decades of experience in fundraising, humanitarian and refugee issues, partnerships, digital marketing, communications and service delivery. Each department at USA for UNHCR has a unique set of capabilities that contributes to our success in reaching our goals. \r\n\r\n--Communications. Our team of media experts seeks to increase awareness around the refugee crisis by boosting our brand recognition, strengthening our profile as a thought leader on refugee issues and engaging with media and influencers to help tell the refugee story. Through storytelling, we educate and engage Americans to build acceptance and support for refugees worldwide.\r\n\r\n--Community Engagement. Our team develops and strengthens relationships and strategies that propel action among individuals and organizations in the U.S. through the following strategies: community advocate networks, engagement programs and strategic partnerships. We work to ensure that community interest in helping refugees is best utilized whether it be raising awareness or funds. Continuously building a network of community organizers, we actively recruit and nurture relationships with Americans that become advocates for USA for UNHCR in communities and on campuses. \r\n\r\n--Digital. We are a digital-first organization and incorporate digital activities into all aspects of our work, including fundraising, display advertising, search engine and content marketing, email marketing and lead generation. We aim to make USA for UNHCR the most natural and accessible choice for Americans hoping to support refugees around the world.\r\n\r\n--Individual Giving. Our staff focuses on developing and implementing fundraising strategies to attract and retain donors as well as generate new support for the global refugee cause. These include emails, television advertisements, country or issue specific appeals and newsletters, in-person meetings, and teleconferences and opportunities to attend missions to see UNHCR\u0027s work in action. \r\n\r\n--Partnerships. We develop strategic relationships with U.S. corporations and foundations to create multi-faceted, long-term and mutually beneficial partnerships that generate to assist in raising awareness and publicity for the refugee issue. These partners are committed to raising awareness, providing assistance on the ground, utilizing their own expertise and exploring innovative solutions to create better lives for refugees.

From 2013 to 2017, USA for UNHCR\u0027s financial support to UNHCR more than tripled. \n\nIn 2017, USA for UNHCR donors helped the UN Refugee Agency protect and assist millions of people forced to flee their homes\u2014responding with lifesaving support, safeguarding basic rights and helping people build better futures. From sheltering families displaced inside Syria to helping people forced to flee violence in Myanmar, UNHCR worked in 128 countries around the world to protect and care for millions of people.\n\nUSA for UNHCR continues to expand programming to increase awareness, acceptance and support for refugees in the United States.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Refugees, Internally Displaced People, Stateless and Resettled Refugees in the United States.

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection


Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 2.06 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 3.6 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 19% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

Source: IRS Form 990 info


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

This snapshot of UNITED STATES ASSOCIATION FOR UNHCR’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

Created in partnership with

Business model indicators

Profitability info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation -$1,384,619 $29,808 $1,513,062 $2,954,010 -$6,570,789
As % of expenses -2.4% 0.0% 2.7% 3.1% -4.7%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation -$1,408,100 -$17,748 $1,410,325 $2,863,923 -$6,757,816
As % of expenses -2.4% 0.0% 2.5% 3.0% -4.9%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $57,235,856 $63,321,729 $55,315,718 $96,855,671 $134,327,754
Total revenue, % change over prior year 12.1% 10.6% -12.6% 75.1% 38.7%
Program services revenue 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.1% 0.2% 0.3% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.8%
All other grants and contributions 99.9% 99.9% 99.6% 100.0% 99.2%
Other revenue 0.0% -0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $57,518,343 $62,685,647 $57,094,814 $94,634,312 $139,110,363
Total expenses, % change over prior year 26.0% 9.0% -8.9% 65.7% 47.0%
Personnel 8.9% 9.5% 12.5% 8.5% 6.3%
Professional fees 3.4% 4.3% 1.3% 4.3% 9.6%
Occupancy 0.9% 1.2% 1.4% 0.9% 0.6%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 58.3% 60.2% 57.1% 70.0% 75.0%
All other expenses 28.4% 24.8% 27.7% 16.4% 8.6%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Total expenses (after depreciation) $57,541,824 $62,733,203 $57,197,551 $94,724,399 $139,297,390
One month of savings $4,793,195 $5,223,804 $4,757,901 $7,886,193 $11,592,530
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,082,100
Fixed asset additions $50,253 $232,800 $0 $0 $896,000
Total full costs (estimated) $62,385,272 $68,189,807 $61,955,452 $102,610,592 $152,868,020

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Months of cash 4.2 3.3 3.6 2.0 2.1
Months of cash and investments 4.2 3.4 3.6 2.0 2.1
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 2.2 2.0 2.5 1.9 0.6
Balance sheet composition info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Cash $19,968,211 $17,496,209 $17,178,929 $15,985,363 $23,995,651
Investments $19,361 $24,752 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $5,137,561 $6,823,416 $3,847,052 $4,107,478 $5,300,957
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $259,794 $413,984 $325,274 $325,273 $1,221,273
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 75.7% 40.0% 52.9% 80.6% 36.8%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 38.7% 46.8% 46.9% 44.2% 85.4%
Unrestricted net assets $10,563,360 $10,545,612 $11,955,937 $14,819,860 $8,062,044
Temporarily restricted net assets $5,501,437 $6,108,412 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $5,501,437 $6,108,412 $2,816,254 $2,083,603 $3,871,783
Total net assets $16,064,797 $16,654,024 $14,772,191 $16,903,463 $11,933,827

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Material data errors No No No No No


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

Letter of Determination is not available for this organization
Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Principal Officer

Ms. Suzanne Ehlers

Prior to joining USA for UNHCR, Suzanne Ehlers served as CEO of Malala Fund, where she worked closely with co-founders Malala and Ziauddin Yousafzai to create a world where all girls can attain an education. Before joining Malala Fund, Ehlers was President and CEO of PAI, a global advocacy leader in protecting and promoting the reproductive health and rights of women and girls. Ehlers has held numerous board and advisory positions and, early in her career, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the C.A.R. She holds a bachelor's degree in Government from Cornell University.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization


Highest paid employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of highest paid employee data for this organization


Board of directors
as of 03/17/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Mr. Mark Wallace

William Ball

Caterpillar Inc

Mark Wallace


Kelly Blevins

Georgetown University

Biar Atem

Las Vegas Sands Corporation

Yasmin Causer

Aishah Hasnie

Fox News Media

Rachael Jarosh

Mark Lopes

Partnership for Central America

Matthew Marolda

Jane Meseck

Eric Sprunk

Virginia Tenpenny


Elizabeth Turner

SV Angel

Liberty Vittert

Harvard University, Washington University

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    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? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/17/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


No data

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/31/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.


Fiscal year ending

Professional fundraisers

Fiscal year ending

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 Schedule G

Solicitation activities
Gross receipts from fundraising
Retained by organization
Paid to fundraiser