Mercy Corps saves and improves lives in the world's toughest places.
Since 1979, we have been helping people in the world’s toughest places survive the crises they confront and turn them into opportunities to thrive.
Our staff — 93 percent of whom are local — work in failing states like Somalia and Zimbabwe. Conflict zones like Afghanistan, Congo and Iraq. And countries that have endured natural disasters like Indonesia, Pakistan and Haiti.
In these places, a child’s life is often at risk. A woman’s education is usually ignored. A family’s livelihood is never a sure thing. We respond immediately to emergencies and stick around to build food security, resilience and new economic opportunities as communities rebuild.
In these important and imperiled places, we listen to locals and prioritize their most urgent needs. We take the long-term view and commit to innovative solutions that drive true change. We think big, start small and take responsible risks to benefit the greatest number of people around the world.
Our vision for change framework is a graphic representation of the way in which key actors, operating principles, and external
conditions interact in the service of our mission: creating secure, productive and just communities. The vision for change represents a process, informed by 25 years of work in the field, that allows for sustainable change to occur.
The vision for change framework provides answers to some essential questions.
At the center of the framework lies the goal, our core mission. Why does Mercy Corps exist? To help create more secure, productive, and just communities.
Surrounding the goal are the principles by which we operate. How do we pursue our mission? Through the principles of Accountability, Participation and Peaceful Change, as adapted from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We believe these principles form the basis for healthy interactions between all stakeholders in the development process. Without them, change is unlikely to lead to secure, productive and just communities.
Beyond the operating principles are the actors who uphold them. Their involvement is critical to pursuing our mission. These actors are: the Private Sector/business, the Public Sector/government and Civil Society/voluntary civic organizations.
Individuals, institutions and organizations within these three sectors need to be strong, accountable and participatory. Beyond that, they need to be able to interact effectively with one another and with their constituents. Mercy Corps often seeks to build the capacity of one or more of these sectors, at the same time strengthening their capacity to work with each other.
Even with those questions answered, our experience has shown that sustainable development is difficult, if not impossible, if key external conditions are not in place. These conditions appear on the outside ring of the diagram. Our programs aim to strengthen one or more of these key conditions, while at the same time reaching out to form partnerships with agencies working to strengthen other external conditions.
Using the Framework
We use the framework in many ways in our daily work. It helps us design the most effective interventions in any particular situation and ensures that we understand the complexity of the relationships where we are working. We use it with communities, local organizations, new staff and colleagues to explain our theory of change.
Finally, we aim to use it to help us measure the success of our programs, not only in terms of how many people we have helped, but also by marking progress toward a more enduring contribution: catalyzing self-empowerment in our local partners.
Communities are the best agents of their own change.
Local markets are the best engines of sustainable recovery.
Success is built on the foundation of good governance.
Our strategy for change
Focus on places in transition, where conflict, disaster, political upheaval or economic collapse present opportunities to challenge the status quo and build more secure, productive and just communities.
Provide emergency relief in times of crisis, then move quickly to help communities recover and build resilience to future shocks.
Promote sustainable change by supporting initiatives that are community-led, market-driven and promote good governance.
Seek innovation that creates major breakthroughs against poverty and lasting change in the places we work.