Oxfam International is an international confederation of 13 independent non-governmental organisations founded in 1995 and dedicated to fighting poverty and related injustice around the world. The Oxfams work together, with over 3000 partners in more than 100 countries, to achieve greater impact by their collective efforts to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.
Oxfam believes that poverty and powerlessness are avoidable and can be eliminated by human action and political will. Oxfam's programs address the structural causes of poverty and related injustice, with the ultimate goal being to enable people to exercise their rights and manage their own lives.
The thirteen Oxfam organizations are based in: Australia, Belgium, Canada (along with a distinct Oxfam organization for the province of Quebec), France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United States. A small Oxfam International Secretariat is based in Oxford, UK, and the Secretariat runs advocacy offices in Washington, D.C, New York, Brussels and Geneva.
The Oxfam International Secretariat leads, facilitates and supports collaboration between the Oxfam affiliates to increase Oxfam International’s impact on poverty and injustice through advocacy campaigns, development programs and emergency response.
Oxfam Great Britain is based in Oxford, UK. It was founded in England in 1942 as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief by Canon Theodore Richard Milford (1896–1987) and the Oxford Meeting of the Quakers (which included Edith Pye and Professor Arthur Gillett and his wife Margaret), with a mission to send food through the Allied blockade to the citizens of Nazi-occupied Greece. The first overseas branch of Oxfam was founded in Canada in 1963. The committee changed its name to its telegraph address, OXFAM, in 1965.
Though Oxfam's initial concern was the provision of food to relieve famine the charity has, over the years, developed strategies against the causes of famine. In addition to food and medicine Oxfam also provides tools to enable people to become self-supporting and opens markets of international trade where crafts and produce from poorer regions of the world can be sold at a fair price to benefit the producer.
Oxfam's program has three main points of focus: development work, which tries to lift communities out of poverty with long-term, sustainable solutions based on their needs; humanitarian work, assisting those immediately affected by conflict and natural disasters (which often leads in to longer-term development work), especially in the field of water and sanitation; and lobbying, advocacy and popular campaigning, trying to affect policy decisions on the causes of conflict at local, national, and international levels.
Oxfam works on trade justice, fair trade, education, debt and aid, livelihoods, health, HIV/AIDS, gender equality, conflict (campaigning for an international arms tade treaty) and natural disasters, democracy and human rights, and climate change.
Mission and values
Oxfam works with others to overcome poverty and injustice.
Who is Oxfam?
Oxfam International works with partners, volunteers, supporters and staff of many nationalities – part of a global movement to build a just and safer world.
What does Oxfam do?
Is a catalyst for overcoming poverty. To achieve the greatest impact, working on three inter-linking fronts:
Saving lives by responding swiftly to provide aid, support and protection during emergencies. Developing programs and solutions that empower people to work their way out of poverty. Campaigning to achieve lasting change.
All the work is based on the belief that everyone has:
- The right to life and security
- The right to a sustainable livelihood
- The right to basic social services
- The right to be heard
- The right to equity
Oxfam works at all levels from global to local, including international governments, global institutions as well as with local communities and individuals, to ensure that everyone’s rights are fulfilled and protected.
Oxfam works closely with others to implement the most appropriate, effective solution in any particular situation.
The size of the Oxfam affiliate network, combined with knowledge, experience, resources and collaborative approach, enables them to have both an immediate impact, and lasting change to be realized.
All human lives are of equal value. Everyone has fundamental rights – these must be recognized and upheld at all times. Poverty makes people more vulnerable to conflict and natural disasters. Much of this suffering is unnecessary and must be relieved.
People’s vulnerability to poverty and suffering is increased by unequal power relations based on, for example, gender, race, class, caste and disability; women, who make up the majority of the world’s poor people, are especially disadvantaged. Unequal power relations must be addressed wherever they occur.
In a world rich in resources, poverty is a morally indefensible injustice which must and can be overcome. Poverty, vulnerability and suffering are not pre-ordained events. All too often, poverty is the result of decisions taken, intentionally or unintentionally by those in power. Unjust policies and practices, nationally and internationally must be challenged and rectified.
With the right resources, support, and training, people living in poverty can solve their own problems. We all have a personal responsibility to work together to overcome poverty and suffering.
Oxfam's values are founded on beliefs that centre around three inter-related themes:
- Empowerment: Everyone who is involved with Oxfam, whether by contributing to the work, or those who are living in poverty, feel empowered
- Inclusiveness: Oxfam is inclusive – open to everyone, regardless of ethnic background or religion
- Accountability: Purpose-driven/results-focused approach which holds Oxfam – and others – accountable.
Oxfam opened the first charity shop in Britain in Broad Street, Oxford in 1948. Today it operates approximately 750 shops through Britain as well as a number in other countries. Over 70 of the organization's shops in the UK are specialist Oxfam bookshops, making them the largest retailer of second-hand books in the United Kingdom. Oxfam Canada sold off its Bridgehead fair trade business, which in 2000 became the Bridgehead Coffee chain which continues to promote fair trade coffee and related products.
Oxfam shops also sell fair trade products from developing communities around the world.
Oxfam has received funding from the Ford Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Minneapolis Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. It has an annual operating budget of over $300 million USD.
Oxfam has a number of successful fundraising channels in addition to its shops. Over half a million people in the UK make a regular financial contribution towards its work, and vital funds are received from gifts left to the organization in people's wills. Many London Marathon competitors run to raise money for Oxfam, and Oxfam also receives funds in return for providing and organizing volunteer stewards at festivals such as Glastonbury. In conjunction with the Gurkha Welfare Trust, Oxfam also runs several Trailwalker events in Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The CHANGE Initiative is a program established by Oxfam America and young leaders from across the country and around the world. The highly competitive national program trains students to become actively engaged in social justice.
Oxfam On Tour
The relationship between Oxfam and Coldplay goes back over six years now. Coldplay are one of Oxfam's biggest supporters and are global ambassadors for the Make Trade Fair Campaign. Oxfam are frequently found at Coldplay concerts and are staffed by amazing volunteers. According to Oxfam, "an official survey showed that 84% of 18-24 year old British people know about Oxfam's campaigning work because of Coldplay". 
Oxfam America recurited volunteers to help them spread the word at the 2008 Concerts. You can find out more and hear from volunteers at Coldplaying.com 
On 26 October 2006, Oxfam accused Starbucks of asking the National Coffee Association to block a trademark application from Ethiopia for two of the country's coffee beans, Sidamo and Harar. They claim this could result in denying Ethiopian coffee farmers potential annual earnings of up to £47m. Starbucks denied initiating opposition to the trademark application and stated the NCA had actually expressed concerns to Starbucks, and not the other way around.
Robert Nelson, the head of the NCA, added that his organization initiated the opposition for economic reasons, "For the U.S. industry to exist, we must have an economically stable coffee industry in the producing world...This particular scheme is going to hurt the Ethiopian coffee farmers economically." The NCA claims the Ethiopian government was being badly advised and this move could price them out of the market.<ref>BBC News, Starbucks in Ethiopia coffee row, accessed 26 October 2006</ref>
Facing more than 90,000 letters of concern, Starbucks placed pamphlets in its stores accusing Oxfam of "misleading behavior" and insisting that its "campaign need[s] to stop." On 7 November, The Economist derided Oxfam's "simplistic" stance and Ethiopia's "economically illiterate" government, arguing that Starbucks' (and Illy's) standards-based approach would ultimately benefit farmers more. <ref>Oxfam vs. Starbucks: And this time, Oxfam may be wrong</ref>
Oxfam is one of the world's Big International Non Governmental Organisations (BINGOs) which have been criticised <ref>http://newint.org/features/2005/10/01/keynote/</ref> for being undemocratic whilst wielding enormous financial and economic clout.
In April 2007 two academics in Melbourne, Australia lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission accusing Oxfam of saying it is guilty of misleading or deceptive conduct under the Trade Practices Act in its promotion of Fairtrade coffee<ref>Template:Cite news</ref>.
The Oracle on Oxfam
August 5, 2008 - submitted by Shawnna, United States of America
Q. How long has Coldplay been involved with Oxfam?
The Oracle replies:
Since the launch of Make Trade Fair in 2002. Oxfam launched the worldwide campaign on 10th April with 144 countries backing the crusade. London held an event in Trafalgar Square where Chris performed Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers To Cross.
August 1, 2008 - submitted by Thomas, United States of America
Q. hey oracle..I was watching a video of Coldplay performing on youtube, and I notice that Chris no longer paints the make trade fair symbol (equal sign) on the back of his left hand. Has he painted it somewhere else or does he not support make trade fair anymore?
The Oracle replies:
The band still support Fair Trade. Oxfam have been on tour with the band and there's a blog where you can read all about it. Check our news section for more details.