Adventist Development and Relief Agency

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency International (ADRA or ADRA International) is a humanitarian agency operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the purpose of providing individual and community development and disaster relief. It was founded in 1956, and it is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States of America.

Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)
FounderSeventh-day Adventist Church
TypeHumanitarian/Aid/Disaster Relief/Development
Area served
134 Countries Worldwide
ProductProvides individual and community development and disaster relief, including Food Security, Economic Development, Primary Health, Emergency Management, and Basic Education
OwnerSeventh-day Adventist Church
Key people
Jonathan Duffy, President; Korey Dowling, Vice President for HR; Michael Kruger, Vice President for Finance
$173,000,000 (2009)
5,000 (2009)

In 2004, ADRA reported assisting nearly 24 million people with more than US$159 million in aid. Its staff numbered over 4,000 members.[1] As of the end of 2007, it had operations in 125 countries [2] According to Forbes, in 2005, ADRA ranked among America's 200 largest charities.[3]


ADRA's mission statement is: "ADRA works with people in poverty and distress to create just and positive change through empowering partnerships and responsible actions.[2] ADRA says the reason for its existence is "to follow Christ's example by being a voice for, serving, and partnering with those in need".[4]

A Biblical Perspective for Humanitarian Work

The 1983 organizational documents for ADRA include a biblical rationale for conducting humanitarian work:[5]

  1. God sent Jesus Christ into a sinful and evil world in order to answer human need and show a new way of life that would demonstrate the principle of love in all human relationships: John 3:16, Luke 19:10, Luke 10:27
  2. Jesus Christ showed special concern for the very poor, the despised and the deprived. He condemned those who failed to respond to their situation: Luke 4:18, Luke 20:47, Luke 12:21
  3. The New Testament condemns the use of categories or groups of people as a basis for Christian involvement in meeting need: Mark 16:15, Col. 3:11, Rom. 3:23.
  4. Jesus Christ, in His initiatives and in the commission to the Church, regarded man as a whole, offering healing, teaching and salvation so that the image of the Creator might be restored in man: Luke 4:40-4:43, Col. 3:10, Luke 10:9
  5. The Church is called to give itself to the world in a redeeming, healing ministry: John 12:5, James 2:15,16, I John 3:16.
  6. The end time brings cruel and evil distortions in the social fabric, a condition deplored in the world and by its Lord, and to which the Church responds by identifying the causes and seeking to relieve those harmed by injustice: James 5:1-6, Isa. 58:6,7, Rev. 3-17.
  7. Christianity acts as a catalyst in social and political change, yet the Church does not seek political involvement or economic advantage through its ministry and mission: John 18:36, Acts 4:34, Amos 8:4 .


ADRA partners with communities, organizations, and governments in order to develop:

  • Food Security
  • Economic Development
  • Primary Health
  • Emergency Management
  • Basic Education

ADRA says that it serves people without discriminating their ethnic, political, or religious association. Priority is given to those with disabilities, children, and senior citizens.[6]

ADRA's areas of expertise include: Education, Emergencies, Food/nutrition, HIV/AIDS, Health, Refugees and IDPs, Shelter, Training and development, Water and sanitation, Women, Children, Monitoring and Evaluation, Programme management, and Security.[7]

A Los Angeles Times story from 1998 reports on ADRA's 1996 10-year strategic plan, which calls the agency "a bona fide ministry of Jesus Christ and the Seventh-day Adventist Church" and "provides a strategy to reach people previously untouched by other church institutions. The church's mission is incomplete without ADRA's distinctive ministry."[8] Much has been said about faith-based agencies taking US government funding and using those funds to further religious doctrinal missions, however ADRA does not proselytise. It claims to operate "by love with no strings attached".[9] As a global organisation, ADRA is a signatory of the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief, which states that "aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint", that "aid is given regardless of the race, creed, or nationality", and that organizations "shall respect culture and custom." [10]


ADRA was established as the Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service (SAWS) in November 1956. The name was changed to Seventh-day Adventist World Service in 1973.[1]

In 1983, the organisation was renamed the 'Adventist Development and Relief Agency' to better reflect its missions and activities.

International Development Degree Program

In 1996 ADRA and Andrews University established the ADRA Professional Leadership Institute (APLI). The institute provided field-based training and continuing professional education to ADRA staff around the world. By the year 2000, the APLI program was used as a model by the Food Aid Management members as an example of "best practices for local capacity building." The model was well received by Africare, World Vision, and others.[11] By 2003, the ADRA and Andrews University partnership offered a master's degree in International Development. More than 160 students had graduated. Sixty of those graduates had moved into management positions across the network. Seventh-day Adventist institutions of higher education on four continents offered degrees in International Development.[12]

United Nations

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted ADRA general Consultative Status in 1997.[11]

Emergency Response

So far in 2014, ADRA International has responded to approximately 60 emergencies worldwide, by which more than 127,000 people have directly benefited.

See also

  • Charity Commission. ADRA-UK, registered charity no. 1074937.
  • USA EIN 52-1314847 at Charity-Navigator
  • ADRA Mauritanie


  1. Our History Archived July 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  2. GuideStar Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  3. Forbes Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  4. Why ADRA Exists Archived July 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, ADRA
  5. General Conference Committee Annual Council Minutes, October 10, 1983, p. 83-325
  6. Who we are Archived July 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. Thomson Reuters Foundation Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  8. A History of Complaints Dogs Adventist Aid Agency, Los Angeles Times, August 14, 1998
  9. Frequently Asked Questions Archived August 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Adventist Development and Relief Agency. 2010/09/08
  10. Somalia's ruling militant group orders ADRA to leave the country. Adventist News Network. 2010/09/08 Archived August 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  11. Watts, Ralph S., "Report Prepared for the GC Session: Adventist Development and Relief Agency", General Conference Bulletin 2000 No. 4, Adventist Review, July 4, 2000, p. 15 (1031)
  12. Sandefur, Jr., Charles C., "Adventist Development and Relief Agency International Constituency Meeting and Report", General Conference Committee Annual Council Minutes, October 13, 2003-10AC, pp. 03-212 (110)
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