Why World Refugee Day Needs Corporate Support, Especially Now

This upcoming World Refugee Day will be different than previous years. We’re all impacted in some way by the far-reaching consequences of COVID. Vulnerable groups like refugees have been hit hardest.


World Refugee Day takes place on June 20, and it’s a critical opportunity for GlobalGiving to raise awareness and support for our nonprofit partners who support people fleeing from unimaginable violence and persecution.

Nearly one in three refugees lives in a refugee camp. The close quarters make it difficult to practice social distancing as recommended by medical professionals. Refugee camps are also usually in rural areas, which can limit access to health care.

Lately, asylum seekers have also been increasingly targeted with xenophobic rhetoric and attacks. All the more reason for the global community to unite to combat this disturbing trend on World Refugee Day and beyond.

It’s critical for people to understand how much this pandemic is exacerbating discrimination and hardships for vulnerable populations.

Gideon Maltz, Executive Director at the Tent Partnership for Refugees, said, “Beyond the health impact, we’re seeing that refugees are especially vulnerable to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 virus. As newcomers, their financial safety net is likely to be precarious. While many countries like the U.S. have enacted legislation to respond to people’s economic needs during this time, many refugees have been left out and are unable to receive cash payments, unemployment benefits, and other much needed relief.”

What We Have Seen

My job is to educate companies and funders on the impact of their giving programs and help them share their prosperity in the most effective ways possible. Since the pandemic, we have advised companies to make more unrestricted, general operating grants. Many of our corporate partners have loosened or even removed grant reporting requirements. Some are making the process to request funding more accessible. While these changes apply to nonprofits across the spectrum of causes, flexibility is most crucial when organizations are working with people more heavily impacted by COVID-19, such as refugees.

We have also seen companies invest funds into supporting refugees—putting dollars towards needed work. The Lego Foundation is making sure that children living in refugee camps have essential supplies and access to services.

What Else Companies Can Do

It’s crucial to give unrestricted and more accessible funding—otherwise, we’re limiting the flexibility that is needed during this uncertain time. We need more ways for the most affected populations to access funding.

Funders need to support the many grassroots and community-led organizations that work with refugee populations—and ensure that small nonprofit organizations are not forgotten. Local nonprofits operate with expertise and knowledge of the complex challenges facing asylum-seekers.

Companies don’t need to stop at donations. “As we deal with the immediate aftermath of the virus, there’s an urgent need for financial support to the many nonprofit organizations that serve refugee communities—and businesses have an important role to play here. However, as we look past the immediate crisis and consider how we can ‘build back better,’ the business community can have the greatest impact, not only through charity, but through an intentional effort to integrate refugees into host countries’ economies,” said Gideon Maltz of Tent Partnership for Refugees.

The pandemic hasn’t impacted everyone equally. People around the world who have kept their jobs and can now work remotely from the safety of their homes are searching for ways to do good, even donating their stimulus checks to organizations that need help. Many companies are struggling right now and unemployment continues to rise. But companies in a position to do some good should consider encouraging employees to support those most impacted by the pandemic, including refugees.

Learn how your company can support refugee causes around the world.


Featured Photo: Solidarity with Palestinians fight against COVID-19 by Karama Organisation for Women and Children's Development

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