Coalition aims to streamline awareness efforts, attract new donors

Aid workers with the Red Cross and European humanitarian agency provide people displaced by Cyclone Idai with water and shelter. Photo by: Christian Jepsen / European Union / CC BY-NC-ND

WASHINGTON — Eight of the largest humanitarian aid NGOs have joined together as the Global Emergency Response Coalition, a group that will raise awareness and funds in the United States for crises around the world.

The Coalition includes CARE, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Oxfam America, Plan International USA, Save the Children, and World Vision. It was originally launched back in 2017 when the organizations came together to bring attention to the hunger crisis. That appeal raised more than $4 million to help people in more than 10 countries, including in Yemen where it was used to support the International Medical Corps’ cholera response efforts, and in South Sudan and Kenya where CARE and Save the Children screened children for malnutrition.

After that appeal, the members of the coalition then took about a year and a half to do some market research, evaluate that experience, and determine if a coalition was needed, what it would do, and how it would operate.

The result is a revamped coalition, with a managing director — Gwen Young — who will hire two additional employees to staff the effort, and an expanded mission.

In January when the organizations decided on the coalition’s future they didn’t want to add bureaucracy but wanted a “lean and nimble” organization focused on increasing awareness and funds to meet the huge humanitarian needs today, Young said in an interview. The organizations recognized that the power and coordination of working together was valuable, and that between them all, they have deep technical expertise in a number of areas.

“The coalition is starting from the premise that there is a huge unmet need, we need more new donors,” she said. “The idea is to unlock new types of funding or donors who are more interested in us all responding together.”

The coalition will likely launch two to three appeals a year and though it hasn’t yet identified its next appeal, it plans to use social media and traditional media to raise awareness with Americans. It will also work to build long term partnerships that will also address ongoing issues, Young said.

In determining what issues or crises it will focus on, the coalition will look at “size, scale, severity and whether or how the eight respond,” Young said, adding that it needs to be a situation where the organizations can really make a difference together.

All funds raised through the coalition will be divided equally among the organizations unless one opts out for a specific reason or doesn’t have a presence in a specific region. About 85% of the funds will go directly to the field to fund response to that specific disaster — 5% will go to the coalition to cover costs and 10% will cover administrative costs for the organizations related to the disaster.

Many of these organizations are already working together programmatically, but this is a way to work together in a different capacity and at a more global level. And while there is competition for funds among these organizations at times, its something the coalition has been able to navigate thus far, Young said.

About the author

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    Adva Saldinger

    Adva Saldinger is an Associate Editor at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.