Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does a holistic approach mean when working with people on the move?
We care for the whole being of individuals and communities, both host communities and those on the move. We acknowledge that our wellbeing is multi-dimensional and requires placing equal emphases on the spiritual, physical, social, emotional, intellectual, professional, and ecological wellbeing. While honoring the 'whole being needs' of individuals and communities, our mission includes nurturing mutually supportive relationships between people on the move and host communities. Our work is rooted in kindness, respect, and trust. The programs we support embody individual and communal resilience and nourish the spirit, heart, mind, and body. Through our grant partners, we hope to strengthen human connection and resiliency (more here).
2. Why does the Global Whole Being Fund tend to avoid the term “refugees”?
Imagery and language are crucial and shape our outlook. Too often, the terms used to describe people on the move reduce individuals to their legal status. The words that are used to describe refugees often conjure up concerns of burden and need instead of opportunity and resources. Regardless of their legal status, people on the move are human beings with both critical needs and assets to share. Their resiliency and resourcefulness are assets to be acknowledged. To truly reflect the experiences of those forced to flee, language and graphic descriptions (including photographs and videos) should reflect the entirety of their lived experience—before and during whatever crises perpetuated their leaving their homes—as well as their aspirations for the future. (more here).
3. Why are your grant funds spent primarily outside of the U.S.?
We fund courageous, compassionate heart-led local programs and initiatives both within and outside of the United States, though the majority of our grant funds are sent internationally. While the need to support a domestic holistic refugee response exists, the majority (over 99%) of people on the move are located outside of the U.S., and resources for grassroots community oriented initiatives in those countries are extremely limited. The communities that are hosting the largest number of people on the move are located in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. The Syrian war by itself has caused 4.9 million people to seek refuge in other countries and 6.6 million to be internally displaced (meaning they are not in their home communities, but remain in war torn Syria).
4. Are you supporting people on the move across the globe including in Yemen or Bangladesh?
We carefully track the global refugee response crises, including the recent events and needs in Yemen and Bangladesh amongst others. Our funding goes to organizations that have agency over their work (design and implementation). Yemen is especially volatile and organizations other than larger international NGOs cannot securely and effectively operate within the country. The Rohingya response crisis presents an extremely complex situation as well. Thankfully, the international refugee sector is currently placing a strong emphasis on providing support in Bangladesh, and so far, we have not yet seen much of a community-based grassroots response. Hence, we have not been funding any initiatives responding to the Rohingya on the move. In addition to the migration route across the Middle East and Europe, we are currently exploring supporting the response to people on the move along the Venezuelan border. Venezuela’s response crisis is not widely covered in the press and is severely underfunded.
5. What distinguishes formal from informal response to people on the move?
The “formal” sector refers to international not-for-profit organizations (INGOs), UN-agencies and governments. In a nutshell, the term formal refers to the traditional refugee response sector by large international actors who tend to mobilize for large disaster relief with well-established but time-limited and narrowly focused logistical approaches. When using the term “informal”, we are generally referring to community based organizations, local grassroots responses, and international support organizations that partner closely, and in reciprocal relationship with, local efforts. These are organizations that have predominantly evolved out of movements and initiatives led by people who have responded to a unique need in a particular location, rather than as employees who work professionally for the formal sector organizations.
Over the last three years, we have witnessed countless inspiring innovations and holistic examples supporting people on the move and their host communities within the informal sector. Nevertheless, the formal sector remains critical as first-responders given its scale, experience, and global infrastructure. All of our grant partners collaborate with the formal sector as well as working in highly cooperative networks with other informal sector organizations.
6. What is the benefit to people on the move of GWBF working closely with Help Refugees?
Our relationship with Help Refugees as an intermediary evolved organically since late 2016. Our collaboration started with one grant addressing the winter needs of women and children on the move. Our relationship has evolved, and we are now supporting over 20 organizations across the migration route from the Middle East to Europe. Help Refugees has the infrastructure (local coordinators), expertise, relationships, and overall capacity to support grassroots and international organizations on the ground. Help Refugees allows us to maximize our impact on the ground by allocating resources in an ethical, efficient, and responsive manner. All decisions are made based on the needs of people on the move and their host communities. Help Refugees operates administratively within Prism the Gift Fund, a trusted U.K.-based entity that provides additional layers of administrative and fiscal oversight and grantmaking due diligence.
7. What makes you uphold Help Refugees' model as an innovative and holistic response model for people on the move?
Help Refugees' decisions are initiated by the communities they are serving and are rooted in local expertise and experience. All of the 80 projects supported by Help Refugees are holistic in their nature and outlook, thereby reshaping conventional refugee response efforts. People on the move and local partners participate in leadership for most initiatives. Given the dynamic situations where they engage, Help Refugees budgets on a monthly basis to ensure that they can meet the ever-changing needs on the ground. Help Refugees carefully maintains trustful relationships with their 80 partners.
Help Refugees has a particularly strong presence in Greece. With 40 active partners spread across Athens, Northern Greece and the islands, Help Refugees has created a holistic support ecosystem for both locals and refugees. Because the need remains acute, Help Refugees remains a lifeline covering emergency and humanitarian support for people on the move in Greece, continuing to fill critical gaps and services long after the formal sector largely disengaged. Ultimately, long-term support through housing, education, etc., is the goal for those who cannot return home. Help Refugees is changing the narrative for such programs by elevating them with fully integrated and holistic approaches.
Help Refugees is also extraordinarily innovative when it comes to fundraising. Seventy five percent of Help Refugees' budget comes from small public donations, e.g. crowdfunding, pop-up restaurants and Choose Love shops in London and New York. The remaining 25 percent comes from foundations and larger individual charitable gifts. By having such a diverse funding base, Help Refugees continues to draw strong public support and mobilize committed volunteers for people on the move.
8. What type of funding does the GWBF provide?
Our grantmaking is driven by our core values: kindness, respect, and trust. We see our grantmaking predominantly as building relationships. We pay careful attention to our grant partners’ views and ideas. We trust our grant partners to steward our funds with integrity and to always maintain, first and foremost, their mission to serve people on the move. Regularly visiting our partners and local organizations on the ground, we rely on such close relationships to ensure values alignment, and to maintain open communication and quick feedback.
9. Why is the GWBF funding emergency and long-term support?
There exist many long-term conventions and rationales for separating emergency and long-term support for people on the move. This siloed approach has often caused challenges on the ground and often resulted in a non-optimal use of funds. When we began our work we focused exclusively on humanitarian and long-term support. However, thanks to our grant-partners we have extended our strategy and are covering both emergency support as well as long-term support. Emergency support includes the arrival needs e.g. rescue missions, hot food, warm clothing, tents, food, hygiene articles and much more. Sadly, the emergency needs are not just limited to the arrival. It also involves filling gaps post arrival e.g. water and sanitation, non-food items such as clothing and hygiene articles, diapers for babies, etc.
When funding only long-term work, e.g. education for children, it is important to take into account that people cannot fully engage in programs if their other wellbeing needs are not being met. If children live in camps or informal settlements, they probably lack access to seasonally appropriate clothing, nutritious food, transportation, etc. Hence, it is crucial to apply an integrated approach. That said, we trust our grant partners to determine what is needed at the local level and aim to provide reasonable flexibility to allow expenditures for items that are often not appealing to funders focused solely on crisis response, such as the purchase of sanitary pads, diapers, mobile phone credit, and other essential needs for camp survival after food, medical services, and shelter.
10. Why do you support host communities rather than solely focusing on refugees?
We firmly believe that a human-centered and dignified refugee response must include the needs of the host communities. Separating support for people on the move from overall support to the host communities too often creates social tension. Most host communities are in countries that are themselves facing multiple pressures including economic challenges caused by high unemployment rates. In many host communities, locals themselves face challenges in accessing social or medical services. Creating a sense of common belonging for people on the move and their host communities is crucial. Hence our vision is to support an inclusive community serving both people on the move and host communities.