Demystifying Humanitarian Financing

December 15, 2016 Tina Bolding

As part of the recent World Humanitarian Summit, the UN Secretary-General appointed a panel of experts to explore the estimated $15 billion gap in humanitarian financing.  Their report, Too Important to Fail - Addressing the Humanitarian Financing Gap, identified three key aspects of the humanitarian financing challenge:

  • reducing the needs
  • mobilizing additional funds through either traditional or innovative mechanisms
  • improving the efficiency of humanitarian assistance

For many NGOs, the second priority – mobilizing additional funds through either traditional or innovative mechanisms – remains an ongoing struggle.  Aid organizations of all sizes lack sufficient access to all potential sources of funding. And many find it difficult to navigate the bureaucratic requirements of public and private donors.

ICVA – the International Council of Voluntary Agencies – has developed an online learning stream to help NGOs understand, navigate, and gain access to this new landscape of humanitarian funders.  The courses in this 5-part online learning program are appropriate for all NGO staff including those working in the field, policy, or at headquarters. 

Topic One – Demystifying Humanitarian Funding ­– is now available to all learners on DisasterReady. 

Demystifying Humanitarian Financing provides an overview of traditional and emerging financing streams, with a focus on solving the challenges NGOs face in obtaining humanitarian funding. In addition to humanitarian financing, the curriculum has additional topics that cover humanitarian funding sources including UN, pooled, bilateral, and private funding. This new learning resource is available in English, French, and Arabic.

In 2017, DisasterReady will roll out the next four parts in this online learning program:

  • Topic Two: UN humanitarian funding - demystifying NGO access
  • Topic Three: Pooled funding - how can NGOs engage?
  • Topic Four: Bilateral funding - trends, challenges and opportunities for NGOs
  • Topic Five: Private funding - a growing source for NGOs?

Whether you are part of the fundraising team in your organization or just want to increase your knowledge of NGO operations, we hope you come away from these first courses with an improved understanding of humanitarian financing and some actionable recommendations on how to navigate the system.

Thank you very much to our colleagues at ICVA for developing these critical resources and for sharing them with the DisasterReady community.


About the Author

Tina Bolding is the Director of and is responsible for the strategy, development and outreach for this effort to support the critical and demanding training needs of the global humanitarian community. Before joining the Foundation, Tina served as chief human resources officer at Food for the Hungry, an international relief and development organization, where she built a global HR department and implemented support services to assist HR operations across 22 countries. Tina holds a BA in Organizational Communication and Psychology from the University of Tulsa.


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