Philanthropy must shift to invest more in disaster prevention

May 23, 2016

Istanbul, May 23 – Philanthropy groups must be a part of the global shift towards ending humanitarian need by investing significantly more in disaster prevention, a new report finds.

The report, The World Humanitarian Summit: A Pivot Point in Philanthropy’s Contribution to Addressing Humanitarian Crises, was released today at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

It was launched by the SDG Philanthropy Platform, a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Foundation Center and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

The report found that the vast majority of philanthropy resources are currently spent on immediate relief after natural disasters, and organizations often disengage after the initial response is over.

Further, these efforts are often fragmented and ad hoc – particularly funding committed by smaller foundations – and without the right understanding of local contexts, the philanthropy can sometimes do more harm than good.

In contrast, according to the report, many companies and corporate foundations are increasingly supporting humanitarian responses in more sophisticated ways, including with specific investment plans that address the causes of humanitarian crises.

This type of innovative and highly effective contribution is a welcome part of the “new dialogue” around crisis response at the World Humanitarian Summit and should be expanded, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Administrator, Sima Bahous.

“As the report finds, solutions to humanitarian crises, led by the philanthropic sector, can reach scale and achieve deeper impact by leveraging the actions of others, including multilateral organizations, governments and other NGOs,” Ms Bahous said.

Alwaleed Philanthropies, a partner in humanitarian action with SDG Philanthropy Platform, pledged GBP 20 million at the Summit towards its partnership with Save the Children to develop ten rapid response centers globally, in the next five years. The centers will allow more rapid and effective responses to humanitarian disasters.

“The Summit will be a spare to share foundation insights on achieving humanitarian action where the sector can catalyze action to achieve gender equality,” Secretary General at Alwaleed Philanthropies, HRH Princess Lamia Bint Majed AlSaud, said.

SDG Philanthropy Platform partner, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, committed USD 1.4 million at the Summit to support the Platform, a model for multi-stakeholder engagement in the humanitarian sector. Hilton will also support disaster relief and recovery activities with USD 10 million over five years and pledged USD 250,000 to the Connecting Business Initiative, which will also be announced at the Summit. Connecting Business will establish an easy and systematic way for business and development partners to interact and facilitate the mobilization of private finance and technologies in crisis preparedness and economic recovery.

Vice President, Grant Programs, at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Edmund Cain, said the philanthropic sector was at a transformative moment, with the potential to have broad impact through strategic, thoughtful investments in dynamic networks.

“We realize the potential for philanthropy to become more effective through inclusive and collaborative approaches that involve all types of development stakeholders, including the UN, government, donors, and civil society,” Edmund Cain said. “As such, we support support partnerships such as the SDG Philanthropy Platform.”

Another partner in humanitarian action with SDG Philanthropy Platform, Raf Foundation, will announce the Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah Initiative to fight hunger with a Summit commitment of more than USD 270 million through to 2020, targeting 36 countries in Africa and Asia.

Foundation Center in the U.S. states that at least USD $27.6 billion of philanthropic funding was directed towards disasters and humanitarian crises in 2013, in the form of both official development assistance and giving by multilaterals, corporations, individuals, and foundations. Grants awarded by the top 1,000 US foundations totaled $116.9 million. Yet more can be achieved by collaborative philanthropic efforts.

Internationally recognized foundations will deliver a number of key commitments at the Summit, monetary and non-monetary, to target humanitarian challenges such as gender disparity in disaster contexts.

Contact information

Contact Information:

Istanbul: Nicolas Douillet, nicolas.douillet@undp.org, +90 545 854 9456