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Helping refugee NGOs diversify their funding with UNHCR

Updated: May 24

Project: Workshop on "Exploring new partnerships & innovative fundraising"

Sectors:  Forced displacement | Fundraising

Partners: UNHCR

Location:  Israel

Date: November 2022


Mindset-PCS organized a workshop for NGOs working with refugees, together with UNHCR, on innovative fundraising & partnership pathways. The training’s objectives were to:

  1. present an overview of the potential partners for organizations working with refugees and asylum seekers in Israel – including the private sector and ‘alternative/innovative’ partnerships.

  2. share key recommendations on how to effectively engage such new partners and fundraise.

  3. discuss how the organizations can concretely strengthen their partnership and fundraising strategy.


30+ participants from 15+ NGOs and UNHCR attended the workshop.

Some takeaways:

In this workshop, we talked about creative, untapped channels for partnerships and fundraising that move away from traditional philanthropy, including: partnerships with the private sector and with foundations that do not traditionally give to refugee-related causes but that can be approached through other angles (e.g. innovation, impact, entrepreneurship). We also explored alternative financing mechanisms such as social enterprise models, refugee-lens investment, and community philanthropy, and learned from global good practices.

  1. Traditional philanthropy is NOT enough to cover the extensive work of organizations working with refugees in Israel and globally. Bold and creative solutions are needed to untap different ‘hidden’ less obvious channels.

  2. Speakers were unanimous: collaboration among organizations working with refugees in Israel is KEY to explore new types of partnership and fundraising pathways. Synergies across sectors in Israel, e.g. with organizations working with other marginalized groups and minorities, were also encouraged.

  3. There is a need to bring the displacement issue of Israel to the international agenda, and link the domestic work to international practices, to gain international allies in an extremely politicized and increasingly complex domestic context.

  4. Donors are increasingly interested in exploring models that can provide a return – commercial or social. To attract new donors and partners, NGOs and UN must demonstrate the impact of their work through outcome-based measurement methods. NGO and UN are already doing so, but the language (and expectations) might be different across different industries which may sometimes create some gaps in understanding amongst actors. There is a need to uniformize the impact measurement language.

  5. Co-creation of programs with NGOs/UN together with donors is appealing to many donors – without, however, falling under a donor-led programming mindset.

  6. Donors are looking for innovative, creative solutions that will dare testing new ways of thinking and new models of actions. ‘Business-as-usual’ programming is not enough anymore to find durable solutions to forced displacement.

See more takeaways here.

Our opinion:

On the one hand, organizations working with refugees and asylum seekers in Israel are doing fantastic work but their resources remain limited. This limitation restrains their power of action and impact. On the other hand, there are some untapped or less obvious channels for partnerships and fundraising that can help them increase revenue, visibility, power of action and ultimately impact. There is a need to explore additional “untapped” pathways to maximize partnerships and fundraising opportunities.


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