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We all want to make a difference in the world, and many of us rely on nonprofits to help us do just that. It’s important to investigate the charities we support, but because of the complicated and distant nature of the work, we’re often left wondering if the organizations we support are really doing what they say they are.

You might be wondering, Is The Exodus Road a trustworthy organization that combats human trafficking? Keep reading to learn why you can trust that The Exodus Road is legit. 

The Exodus Road’s financial transparency

One great place to start when vetting any nonprofit is to check out their finances. Many third-party organizations exist with the sole purpose of auditing whether nonprofits are being transparent with how they use the donations and grants they receive. Some of those organizations are Charity Navigator, Excellence in Giving, and GuideStar

Charity Navigator rates The Exodus Road at 97%, or four-star, which is their highest rating. This rating is based on three areas: accountability and finances, leadership and adability, and culture and community.

Excellence in Giving has also certified The Exodus Road as transparent in its financial activity. GuideStar has rated The Exodus Road with its highest rating — Platinum, meaning that The Exodus Road is candid and transparent in its use of funds. 

The Exodus Road also publishes annual independent financial audits, IRS 990 forms, and annual reports each year. You can access these on our financials page so that you can closely inspect how the money you donate is used. 

How are donations to The Exodus Road used? 

The Exodus Road operates three programs focused on combatting human trafficking: Intervention, which supports law enforcement in intervening in human trafficking crime; Aftercare, which supports survivors of human trafficking and exploitation with emergency and long-term care; and Training & Education, which provides law enforcement and communities with education and training on combatting and preventing human trafficking. 

According to the 2022 Freedom Report, 50.5% of program expenses went toward Intervention, 23.4% went to Aftercare, and 26.1% went to Training & Education. In 2022, 79.4% of the revenue The Exodus Road received went toward these program expenses.

Is human trafficking intervention necessary? 

Most people can get on board with providing aftercare to survivors of human trafficking and providing education and training to prevent human trafficking. But intervening in human trafficking crime is complex and challenging. Some people ask whether it is work that nonprofits should be involved in. 

The Exodus Road has published an article with an in-depth look at this very question: Why is human trafficking investigation necessary? If you want to understand the nature of our work better, we highly recommend reading this article.  

One strong reason for human trafficking intervention is that it’s a globally recognized priority. The U.S. Department of State releases a yearly Trafficking in Persons Report that assesses the state of individual countries’ response to human trafficking. One of the key indicators they consider is how robust investigative frameworks are in each country.

The report offers prioritized recommendations for how each country can improve its action against human trafficking. In 2021, the U.S. State Department’s number-one recommendation was to increase human trafficking investigations or improve law enforcement’s ability to convict traffickers in each of the countries where The Exodus Road works. 

Though human trafficking investigation is an internationally recognized priority, law enforcement in the United States and around the world often lack the time and resources to carry out that important work. That’s where nonprofit organizations come in. 

“For local law enforcement, one of the biggest hurdles in investigating human trafficking is having the availability of officers to handle a crime like this,” explains Theresa Nietzel, a human trafficking investigator with the Erie County, New York Sherrif’s Office. “The solution is having partners who are trained to do this. It’s important for agencies to realize that help is available and they don’t have to do it alone.”

Matt Blumenthal, a sergeant with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, told Thorn how tips from a variety of sources have become integral to the Sheriff Department’s work: “We receive tips and leads from various sources and vigorously investigate everything we get our hands on. We network with other law enforcement agencies, NGOs, churches, schools, military, hospitals, and many other entities.”

Does The Exodus Road use ethical practices?

Because human trafficking intervention is so challenging yet necessary, it’s paramount that organizations use ethical practices as they seek to combat it. Our Intervention teams use best practices and standard operating procedures that emphasize safety — for themselves, our partners in law enforcement, and the human trafficking survivors we work together to free. We maintain our level of excellence through strict vetting of staff and volunteers, consistent training, and strict protocols for investigations. 

All teams and investigators operate under the standards as outlined in the TER Investigative Manual, a document that has been developed after nearly a decade of international investigative work into human trafficking crime. This manual is evaluated annually and contains input from our front-line teams. It is approved by the Ethics Committee of the TER Board. 

Additionally, active operations are always conducted in police partnerships and with a team (never an individual) approach. Our investigators’ procedures are in alignment with law enforcement best practices which emphasize integrity, character, public trust, and maintaining the courage to hold oneself and others accountable for their actions.

We believe accountability is critical, and we utilize an FBI-grade encrypted case management system, Case Closed, to manage and store all investigative records, data, and files. We use various other secure platforms for reporting and analysis within both the U.S. office and our international teams. For security reasons, we cannot make many of our records public, but we do share statistics and details of operations, media releases, and photos when it is safe to do so.

How can I help? 

If you are ready to get involved in the fight against human trafficking, we encourage you to find a nonprofit that fits your passion. We’ve outlined a number of trustworthy organizations, each of which takes a slightly different approach to addressing this issue, in this article: 8 Trustworthy Human Trafficking Nonprofits to Support

You can also join Freedom Collective, The Exodus Road’s generous community of monthly donors, who are helping to free and provide care for survivors every single month. We are so thankful to our supporters who allow this vital freedom work to continue around the world! 

Have more questions? Reach out to us at [email protected].