Editor's Note: This guest post is provided by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. To discuss funding opportunities that align with your values, please contact CDP Vice President Regine A. Webster at Regine.Webster@disasterphilanthropy.org. For the full text of the funding guide, please see "5 Things Funders Can Do to Address the Global Refugee Crisis." 


As the world faces one of the largest refugee crises since World War II, understanding how to fund effective solutions has proven to be a difficult, complex task. When the sources of the political turmoil and conflict causing this flow of people change daily, it’s challenging to address unmet humanitarian needs.

One thing that has not changed is that the funding for the global refugee crisis has been woefully lacking. While the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHRC) always operates with the assumption that they will never receive 100 percent funding when they issue an emergency appeal, the global refugee crisis has been funded to just 10 percent. The gap in funding, while frustrating to those responding to the crisis, leaves private donors a wide array of options to act quickly and thoughtfully.

If you are a donor interested in funding solutions, here are five possible actions you can take to address the global refugee crisis:

Support long-term recovery rather than quick fixes.

According to UNHRC, the average length of displacement for a refugee is close to twenty years. Solutions to this long-term displacement are neither easy nor quick. Increasingly, funders should think long-term about issues such as education, jobs, life skills, sustainable energy sources, and most of all restoring hope and dignity to refuges.

Provide flexible funding.

The constantly changing nature of the crisis requires that international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) maintain programmatic flexibility. INGOs need to be able to adjust efforts to be responsive to the ongoing situation on the ground. With that in mind, funders must vet the potential grantee organizations and their programs thoroughly, but then trust those organizations and their leadership to do their jobs.  

Develop innovative partnerships.

Strategic collaborations are not only more efficient, they often lead to more innovative solutions. Xylem Watermark developed a long-term partnerships with Mercy Corps that allowed them to respond to disasters and crisises, including Syria refugee relief, on several levels. Along with an employee match program that provides the company’s funding to Mercy Corps, Xylem provides company resources to Mercy Corps.

Strengthen assistance to refugees within the U.S.

Each year the U.S. admits tens of thousands of refugees escaping conflict. Donors can play an important role in helping them integrate into local communities. Public information and education could be strengthened to build support for more effective refugee policies. Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) has recommended that U.S. based advocacy be focused on access to services. Integration programs would help refugees with transportation, cultural awareness, education, health, and single-gender transition. 

Explore funding opportunities 

Productive wage earning refugees want opportunities to work and contribute to society. Funders can help these individuals- whether they are in the U.S. or in countries around the world- achieve self-sufficiency by providing jobs, training, and mentoring programs. Achieving self-sufficiency also means paying close attention to the needs of adolescents, particularly in the areas of language, education, and livelihoods/skills training. Research from Protect the People has found that small, local organizations are able to help refugees obtain skills and connect with small businesses.