European Foundation Centre: How are foundations helping to alleviate the refugee crisis?

Through a survey, meetings and conversations with members, the EFC has been drawing a picture of the type of work European foundations are doing or supporting to alleviate the refugee crisis. This includes activities in countries of origin, transit and destination as well as those addressing short- and longer-term needs.

Six main areas of support are apparent: convening different stakeholders, building the capacity of civil society and local government, policy and advocacy work, practical solutions such as language support and legal assistance, public debate and perception, and funding research to better understand and adapt responses. Collaboration was identified as essential, with a need for more pooling of funds in the European Programme on Integration and Migration (EPIM) and conversations on other types of pooled funds such as the ‘rapid response collaborative fund’.

There are also clear gaps such as how to deal with the wider groups of undocumented migrants and their long-term integration. More research and data are required as, despite current efforts, there are still huge gaps in understanding why people move, who they are, what they need and bring, and what works in different contexts.

EFC also received clear indications that foundations need to shift their mindsets from ‘what I can offer’ to ‘what people need’. Likewise, health, education and housing systems need both to become flexible and more integrated, and also to factor in host communities’ anxieties.

For more information
Ali Khan at

For Alliance’s March 2016 feature examining philanthropy’s response to refugees and migration, see

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