Private funding for humanitarian response: Trends and challenges

Men unload food aid from an aircraft in Pakistan. Private donors have become increasingly important to the international humanitarian community, according to a report by the Global Humanitarian Assistance program. Photo by: Joshua Kruger / CC BY-SA

Private donors have become increasingly important to the international humanitarian community, according to a new report that examines trends in private voluntary giving in recent years.

Consistent despite the global financial crisis and even without mega-disasters. That’s how the report by the Global Humanitarian Assistance program described private funding between 2006 and 2010.

According to GHA’s estimates, private donors provided at least $18 billion in humanitarian aid from 2006 to 2010. That’s about a quarter of the $73.9 billion total humanitarian aid mobilized between 2006 and 2010 from all sources. Private giving, like public funding, reached its peak in 2010, prompted by the earthquake in Haiti and floods in Pakistan.

Nongovernmental organizations are the main mobilizers of these private donations, the report says. And they continue to recognize the potential of private funding, which many groups consider the “answer to the dilemma of how to keep responding to the growing number of aid challenges when there are limited government resources available,” the report notes.

Among other factors why NGOs turn to private donors is the speed by which funds become available and the money’s independence from public donor’s political motivations, IRIN News says, citing a number of aid agencies.

There is, however, one main challenge to private funding: lack of consistent reporting on private aid funding at the global level. This is why tracking private aid flows is “near impossible,” the report notes.

Tracking the volume of private contributions and how these are spent is important, noted Vilena Stoinvoa, GHA policy adviser and author of the report. It is imperative, she said, that “we are able to gain as clear a picture as possible about the effectiveness of this funding source in responding to humanitarian needs and tackling vulnerability.”

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.