Let me know if you’ve heard this one before: With around 60 million people forcibly displaced from their homes due to conflict, the world is currently in the midst of the worst refugee crisis in history. We know—we beat the drum pretty loudly here at IP to bring increased attention to the global refugee crisis—often highlighting those funders that are paying attention and questioning those that aren’t.
While most U.S. funders haven’t lifted a finger to help the world’s refugees, there are some notable exceptions—most recently, Tent.org, which offers rapid response grants for immediate refugee relief operations through the $1 million Tent Challenge. Additionally, the organization has managed to bring a group of corporate funders together to take the Tent Pledge.
Tent.org was established by Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani. To Ulukaya’s credit, this isn’t his first commitment to the crisis. Back in 2014, Ulukaya pledged $2 million to the UNHCR and the IRC to aid Syrian refugees. He created Tent to “aid refugees and to end displacement everywhere.” He is also a Giving Pledge signatory, promising to dedicate the vast majority of his wealth to refugees and displaced people.
Ulukaya is the kind of philanthropist we admire: someone who brings an intense sense of urgency to his giving, and isn't afraid to take risks in engaging an issue where there are no easy fixes.
The Tent Challenge is a $1 million commitment in the form of 20 $50,000 “rapid impact” grants awarded to organizations or qualified individuals that are providing immediate relief operations, innovations in relief work, programs to improve livelihoods, and conducting research and analysis to inform more effective policies concerning refugees and displaced people. Tent is currently accepting unsolicited applications for the challenge.
The Tent Pledge is a platform for like-minded corporations to more effectively leverage their resources in the following areas: supply chain management, employment opportunities, direct giving, in-kind donations, and the provision of services.
There are a number of familiar names making the Tent Pledge list including Western Union, UPS, and the Ikea Foundation, all three of which have been huge supporters of alleviating the suffering endured by the world’s refugees, whether through their corporate giving or philanthropic arms. Some newcomers here include Airbnb, MasterCard, LinkedIn, Pearson, Henry Schein, and Johnson & Johnson.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating—a crisis this big must have triggered a huge response from U.S. NGOs and major donors opening their checkbooks, right? Unfortunately, support from funders like UPS, Western Union, Ikea, and Tent are the exception, rather than the rule. And the crisis shows no sign of abating.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Conflict Tracker, there are some 15 to 20 “critical” and “significant” ongoing conflicts occurring around the world. And as far as displaced people are concerned, none have been hit as hard by conflict as Syrians. Yet it’s estimated that only one percent of funding appeals regarding Syrian refugees have been met.
Refugee funding shortfall amounts vary, but the U.N. has put the number at around $15 to $20 billion for all refugees—not just those fleeing Syria. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (a U.N. agency) has even taken to Kickstarter to raise money.