In a Funding Collaborative, Another Sign of Forward Movement on Refugees

Last fall, Comic Relief, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and the Association of Charitable Foundations brought together more than 30 U.K.-based groups to discuss a funding priority list pertaining to the growing refugee crisis in Europe. What resulted from the meeting was not only increased public interest and media coverage, but the establishment of the New Beginnings Fund.

The New Beginnings Fund is a collaborative, pooled fund specifically for the support of refuges and refugee communities. So far, six NGOs have chipped in to create the £500,000 fund including Barrow Cadbury Trust, Comic Relief, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Pears Foundation, Lloyds Bank Foundation and the Rayne Foundation. 

The sum of £500,000, or around $720,000, may seem like a pittance relative to the droves of refugees who continue to land on the shores of Europe. As we've reported, the shortfall in funding needed to address the global refugee crisis is in the billions. Still, every bit makes a difference, and New Beginnings has chosen a very specific niche. It isn’t targeting the international NGOs working with refugees on a global scale; it’s targeting local U.K. groups welcoming refugees and asylum seekers into their communities.

New Beginnings is offering grants to frontline refugee organizations that are “working to get their local communities involved in volunteering and supporting their work to promote integration and welcome new arrivals.” Grants are currently being administered by the U.K. Community Foundations.

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In the grand scheme of things, the creation of the New Beginnings Fund can be counted as a win for refugee funding, which has been gaining more traction around the globe in recent months. Particularly as it applies to local, boots-on-the-ground outfits that are often understaffed and underfunded.

That said, unless more NGOs hop on New Beginnings’ collaborative bandwagon, it won’t be able to provide refugee-related funding for more than seven regions in the U.K. Not to mention that as of right now, the fund can only offer one-year grants, which will address some of the more immediate and emergent needs of refugees that end up in that seven-region spread, but does nothing for their long-term needs.

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As the global refugee crisis drags on with no end in sight, the long-term needs of refugees are coming into sharper focus. It certainly stands to reason that if there isn’t enough money to address their short-term needs, there is going to be even less to help refugees rebuild their lives a year from now. And given the massive funding shortfalls here—the U.N. puts the number at $15 billion—no single entity or group alone can fill the cavernous gap.

But one way for smaller funders to engage, here, is through collaborations such as New Beginnings, in which a bunch of likeminded funders get together, pool their money, spread their risk, and work collaboratively to assist refugees.