Before disaster strikes, harness the calm – How the philanthropic sector can prepare for crises

Kellea Miller

Too often, funders step in only after a crisis. We can do better. It is time to look for warning signs long before the emergency and to build a culture of preparedness

Since the start of 2021, a broad spectrum of emergencies has immediately and indelibly affected human rights. Today’s crises range from violent conflict to democratic decline to natural disasters – or a combination of all three.

At Human Rights Funders Network (HRFN), we see authoritarianism, inequality and oppression compounding these complex crises around the world. These same factors often limit philanthropy’s ability to deliver resources to those most affected in crisis and those most vulnerable to the long-term ramifications. We take seriously the critique that funders often arrive in the aftermath, stay for the short term, and lack strategies to address either root causes or coordinate across sectors.

Crises also do not emerge overnight. The warning signs are there long before the states of emergency.

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