Many foundations fund disaster relief, both in the United States and abroad, as well as refugees. While natural disasters do not currently determine asylum status, funders often fund refugees and disaster relief through the same program. Other organizations fund them separately or one or the other.
Different from a migrant or immigrant, the UNHCR defines a “refugee” as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.” What constitutes refugee (or asylum seeker) status varies between nation-states. Various legal and national organizations are currently working to expand the limited definition of a “refugee,” which currently denies status based on gender-violence and/or sexual violence. In addition, since refugees are so narrowly defined, “climate refugees,” or individuals fleeing due to persecution, war, and violence brought on by climate change pressures does not yet exist in the law and is a misnomer. As a result, expect organizations to evolve their refugee-related grantmaking as the legal definition of asylum seekers expands.
This guide looks at funders working in both spaces. All the profiles of funders are updated regularly. Only paid subscribers can access this resource (subscribe here).
The Abbott Fund awards large grants for disaster relief and refugee aid, but they tend to go toward large organizations.
The AbbVie Foundation supports organizations responding to natural and man-made disasters occurring around the world.
The Agua Fund awards grants to organizations that deliver aid to regions of the world affected by natural disasters. The fund also supports organizations working with refugees.
The Allstate Foundation supports nonprofit organizations responding to natural disasters, but not refugee movements or asylum issues.
The Alstom Foundation funds disaster response, relief, and recovery efforts in regions of the world in which the company has an employee and operational presence.
The Alwaleed Philanthropies supports disaster relief and response organizations working around the world. It does not appear to prioritize grantmaking in the refugee space.
Robbins focuses its grantmaking on rebuilding communities after natural disasters.
The AT&T Foundation supports organizations providing relief and recovery services to communities hit by natural disasters. It does not prioritize refugees.
The philanthropic arm of the software company awards grants for disaster response and relief, as well as in-kind donations and employee volunteers.
This foundation focuses on rapid-response efforts to global disasters and supports groups with which it has an established relationship. It also funds a small number of projects suggested by its employees.
Charitable arm of medical technology company Becton Dickinson, this funder supports large INGOs through its disaster response/relief program. Will fund efforts that address both acute and protracted disasters anywhere in the world.
BlackRock Philanthropy typically supports larger international disaster response and humanitarian aid organizations. It supports both refugees and disaster relief.
The Capital One Foundation’s disaster grantmaking focuses on natural disaster relief efforts in the United States and abroad.
Cargill supports disaster relief efforts nationally and internationally. Internationally, it focuses on capacity building and providing operations support.
Cisco largely supports natural disaster response and relief. Those working to provide recovery and relief efforts for manmade disasters will find it difficult, if not impossible, to attract Cisco’s grantmaking.
Though the Citi Foundation does award grants for immediate disaster relief, the foundation tends to focus on rebuilding communities and strengthening local economies in the aftermath.
Large organizations with worldwide recognition and reach receive the lion’s share of the Coca-Cola Foundation’s grants for disaster relief.
Comic Relief focuses its grantmaking on helping refugees and displaced populations access safe shelter and basic necessities such as food and clothing.
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation finances an array of humanitarian initiatives, including a wide variety of disaster-relief programs.
The U.K.-based Cornish Foundation funds projects and programs that support vulnerable refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant populations.
Crown Family Philanthropies focuses its disaster and refugee grantmaking on organizations providing psychosocial support in areas of the world recovering from conflict.
The Dream Blue Foundation provides humanitarian aid and relief to Syrian refugees. It also gives to education programs to help refugees fill the gap left by war and disaster.
ELMA Relief awards grants to support organizations working in disaster response, rebuilding, and risk reduction related to predictable disasters. The foundation focuses on children and underserved populations.
The rental car holding company's charitable arm supports disaster and recovery efforts worldwide. Grants tend to be modest in amount. Most recipients are chosen by Enterprise Holdings employees.
This nimble corporate funder awards disaster relief, recovery, disaster preparedness grants and grants related to management programs.
In address immigrant, refugee, and asylum populations, the Samuel Fels Fund prioritizes organizations based in or serving the Greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, region.
The Fluor Foundation focuses its disaster-related grantmaking on relief, prevention and preparedness efforts.
Ford does not award many grants in the refugee space, but when it does so, they are large. Ford also gives generously to relief work on select natural disasters.
The Frankel Family Foundation supports long-term educational programs for refugees and displaced persons.
This a small operation of modest means that supports disaster relief and recovery efforts in areas of the world in which the company operates.
The Frees Foundation’s grantmaking focuses on health, education, housing, and community services.
Grantmaking for disasters is similar to other grantmaking by Gates—large gifts go to big-name organizations focused on scalable, replicable projects.
This funder largely supports big disaster response organizations like the American Red Cross.
The Gere Foundation's humanitarian and disaster relief funding invests in efforts for Tibet and to work to integrate refugee programs in developing countries.
This foundation supports disaster preparedness, risk reduction, and resilience-building programs in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam.
This tech funder supports groups that use technology to address disaster and refugee issues. Tends to support large INGOs; grantseekers should contact the foundation for more insight into funding.
The Grainger provides disaster relief grants to organizations responding to natural and manmade emergencies around the world.
This low-profile funder supports organizations that offer response and relief services in the event of a natural disaster or humanitarian emergency.
The Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation seeks community organizations that work to secure healthcare, education, and rights for vulnerable children.
An initiative from U.K.-based Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA), this funder supports organizations fielding novel, results-driven programs that have the potential to scale.
IGH focuses its disaster grantmaking on supporting response and relief efforts after a natural disaster has occurred.
Johnson & Johnson supports disaster relief and humanitarian aid efforts around the world.
The Lawrence Foundation awards grant to environmental organizations located in the United States; however, grantee organizations may operate projects elsewhere in the world.
The MetLife Foundation awards disaster response and relief grants to organizations working in the United States and around the world.
Humanitarian grantmaking here seeks to help refugees and displaced populations rebuild their lives.
This corporate funder centers its giving on first-responder training, preparation programs and public disaster education campaigns.
This foundation prioritizes disaster relief and recovery grants to small, community-based foundations.
This Rome-based funder focuses on disaster response efforts and wide-reaching refugee efforts. Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation’s grants for disaster relief and refugees are relatively wide-ranging.
The Omron Foundation awards grants to organizations responding to natural disasters in the United States and around the world.
Open Society's grant money includes work to assist refugees around the world.
The PepsiCo Foundation provides disaster relief funding to organizations that work in the United States and abroad.
Supports response, relief, and preparedness efforts around the world. Often provides in-kind donations.
This funder awards both immediate disaster and relief grants and long-term support for international organizations.
The Rainbow World Fund supports humanitarian aid organizations that address the needs of both LGBT refugees and non-LGBTQ communities around the world.
Rockefeller works on disaster issues through its resilience frame, and is working worldwide through its 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge.
The Schultz Family Foundation supports natural disaster response and relief efforts taking place in the United States and U.S. territories, but does not support refugee or asylum relief.
Sempra provides response and relief grants to regions of the world that have been affected by large-scale natural disasters. The foundation does not provide funding for man-made disaster relief or events that are a result of conflict.
Southwest Airlines supports organizations that help communities prepare for disasters as well as those responding to regions affected by disaster.
The Stonewall Community Foundation supports LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers.
The T. Rowe Price Foundation awards grants in response to natural disasters in the United States and around the world.
The UBS Optimus Foundation centers its disaster and refugee grantmaking on the safety of children affected by crises.
UPS is practically a one-stop shop for organizations working in disaster relief. Those fortunate enough to receive funding get access to a treasure trove of resources for making positive impacts in disaster zones.
The Visa Foundation focuses its disaster and humanitarian aid grantmaking on working with governments, international relief organizations and other key actors helping communities impacted by crisis.
The Vitol Foundation responds to natural and manmade disasters around the world.
Supports both large NGOs and lesser-known groups that respond to natural disasters abroad; some U.S. response is funded as well. Prefers to make single-year rather than multi-year grants.
The Walmart Foundation offers two ways for organizations to apply for a disaster relief grant—through its Local Giving and National Giving programs.
The Wrigley Foundation supports organizations responding to natural disasters around the world. It also awards grants to help fund long-term rebuilding efforts.