The wave upon wave of forced displacement shifting global populations in recent years is an unprecedented crisis. By the end of 2019, 79.5 million people worldwide had been forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, or events seriously disturbing public order. In addition, more than 20 million people a year are forced to leave their homes due to climate-fueled disasters, with more still being forced to flee across borders to find refuge outside their home country.

Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting nearly every corner of the globe, issues for refugees and the countries most impacted by their movement are being exacerbated.

A challenge so widespread and so complex both at its origins and in its international ripple effect can be daunting. It was overwhelming even before COVID-19 hit. And yet, thanks to leaders in philanthropy who have paved the way, there are clear steps for funders of any size and type to prioritize this issue and have an impact.

As funders consider implementing one of the six strategies below (or another strategy), there are four challenges we’ve identified that are worth keeping in mind as you seek to have impact with funding in this field.

  1. First, the support needed for refugees varies by country.
  2. Second, a conflict-sensitive approach is needed that avoids contributing to tensions between refugees and host communities.
  3. Third, the needs of refugees go far beyond basic access to food and shelter, requiring a holistic approach to philanthropy.
  4. Fourth, long-term solutions are important but easily forgotten.

It is important to note that these challenges all apply equally to funders of every size and geographic focus. These caveats also apply to the six philanthropic response strategies for addressing the global refugee response crisis outlined below.

  1. Focus on immediate needs.
  2. Advocate globally and support refugee rights
  3. Recognize different needs of different populations.
  4. Be flexible and fill in the gaps.
  5. Fund grassroots organizations.
  6. Fund long-term resettlement.

Read the full article about how philanthropy can respond to the global refugee crisis by Maggi Alexander at The Philanthropic Initiative.