Helping UNHCR help: tackling fundraising challenges in times of Covid-19

UNHCR leads international actions protecting the most vulnerable. The organization is almost fully funded through voluntary contributions. Due to Covid-19, it has become crucial to future-proof its fundraising programs and portfolio. But how?

UNHCR is a beacon of humanism in the world. The UN Refugee Agency leads the way in protecting rights, saving lives and building a better future for refugees.

Active in over 134 nations, the organization focuses on protecting refugees, returnees, internally displaced people and stateless persons. It leads international actions protecting the most vulnerable, delivering life-saving necessities such as shelter, food and water.

Challenge

Mobilizing a donor base in extraordinary, challenging times

UNHCR is almost fully funded through voluntary contributions from governments and private donors. In 2018, the former contributed 89% of the overall budget, and the latter 11%. UNHCR has one of the fastest growing international fundraising programs in the private sector.

Today, its ambitious target is to raise 1 billion USD from over 5 million supporters, through a private sector fundraising program running in almost 40 countries. Individual contributions (voluntary donations by individual members of the public, up to the cumulative value of 10,000 USD/year) account for about 70% of the annual total income raised through private sector partnerships – 424 million USD in 2019.

Private sector partnerships have been growing considerably since 2018. The organization has been recruiting donors primarily face-to-face, with increasing emphasis on recruiting through digital channels and direct-response television. 

This immense donor base requires a strong supporter experience, and UNHCR has been looking to increase the average value per donor through donor development, as well as enhance its engagement with donors and improve donor´s satisfaction with the organisation.

Due to Covid-19, UNHCR – like many organizations that rely on private funds – faces new challenges. Donors’ behaviors and preferences have been impacted by the pandemic, and face-to-face fundraising possibilities (and the economy as a whole) have been restricted. It has become crucial for the organization to closely examine its fundraising product portfolio and programs, to future-proof them and ensure they will allow the organization to tackle the new reality.

Approach

Donor-centric innovation with
an eye to the future

In March 2020, Board of Innovation and UNHCR´s PSP (Private Sector Partnerships) set out to design and run its first fundraising innovation challenge, focusing on the diversification of both its portfolio and its revenue streams.

We then facilitated an intensive incubation program, guiding seven international teams through a donor-centric innovation process.

© UNHCR

Results

A promising process

At the end of the incubation program, five teams pitched their final concept to a panel consisting of a diverse group of key stakeholders from UNHCR. 

All teams were able to find a dedicated sponsor that will help them define their next steps and move forward.

On this project

Shervin Fekri

Shervin Fekri

Social Impact Lead &
Sr. Innovation Consultant

Lennert Decuypere

Lennert Decuypere

Innovation
Consultant

Contact us

Similar challenge?
Let's talk!

Inspired by this case and interested in setting up a similar collaboration?
Get in contact with one of our experts!​

Share this case

Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Other cases

Crafting new packaging solutions for ABInBev

Ideation brainstorms and co-creation workshops for ABInBev.

AstraZeneca: forging opportunities in the new normal

When the market shifted due to COVID19 in March 2020, AstraZeneca’s MEA leadership team went on the offense.

Design thinking for business impact with Novartis Data & Digital

How Board of Innovation built a Design Thinking Community of Practice at Novartis

The future of mobility and the opportunities for Toyota

Together with Toyota's foresight team, Board of Innovation documented and predicted the shifts that could impact the European automotive market going forward.

Engie: 3 new ventures & an invigorated innovation strategy

From innovation strategy to corporate accelerators: 360° innovation support for Engie.

Paree Group: MedTech going further with an innovation strategy sprint

We helped 3 independent subsidiary companies jointly identify opportunity areas in healthcare where they're stronger together

Bringing a successful product concept to market with O-I

A journey from sticky notes to rapid prototyping, to real-world innovation.

Food and the city: Innovating online grocery shopping with Collect&Go

Collect&Go is the market leader for online grocery shopping in Belgium. We partnered with Collect&Go to develop the first no-walk-in grocery shopping experience in the country.

Shaping and executing a multi-year Growth Strategy

Sappi, a leading global provider of sustainable woodfibre products and solutions, engaged with Board of Innovation in a strategic multi-year partnership.

Revolutionizing baggage handling at airports with Vanderlande

Corporate startup coaching, from ideation to RedDot Design Award: Board of Innovation for Vanderlande.

Building an innovation culture within Thomson Reuters

How-to-startup coaching for global intrapreneurs in Thomson Reuters.

Transformation program for Proximus

Design thinking transformation program for Proximus, first telco in Belgium.

How KLM developed 3 disruptive digital concepts

Facilitating the KLM’s Disruptive Field Day.

Successful solutions for Blue Box Partners’ clients

Helping Blue Box Partners collaborate with customers to co-design Amazon certified Frustration-Free Packaging solutions.

EDP Group: a renewed innovation model

Co-creating a framework for more efficient innovation at EDP Group

Transforming global healthcare systems through local partnerships

Launching Movimiento Salud 2030 with Roche Pharmaceuticals

New concepts for the Chinese market with Danone

How we helped Danone create 8 food and beverage concepts for the Chinese market while training staff in practical business design methodologies.

Digital Validation Sprint – fertile ground for fertility solutions innovation

Ferring Pharmaceuticals was looking to better prioritize the value proposition of a new digital health solution. We teamed up to ensure a successful launch.

Launching 2 new ventures with ING

Discover how we built 2 new ventures with ING during a changing banking climate.

Building internal capabilities for ING

Innovation transformation program, train-the-trainer tracks, and corporate accelerators: tailored initiatives to keep ING an innovation-driven company.

Designing and testing 7 products in 7 months

We partnered with Almarai on the development of an accelerated innovation process, resulting in the launch of new food and beverage ideas.

Business Model Transformation in Healthcare

We partnered with a Fortune 500 healthcare organization to transform them into a value-based organization with a new digital business model.

32 new business models for Valmet

Securing new profitable innovation growth whilst developing an intrapreneurial innovation culture and mindset.

100+ Total executives trained in Design Thinking

Hands-on training in design thinking for management and talents in Total.

Roche’s Caring Program

From pandemic-driven innovation to shaping the future innovation landscape. Collaboratively leading the way for customer-centric healthcare innovation.

Incubating Fresh Business Ideas with Novo Nordisk


Incubating fresh business ideas through a global talent program.

Building an innovation culture with Cigna Health Insurance

We partnered with leading health services provider Cigna to build an internal innovation capability geared towards solving business-critical challenges in local markets around the world.

Digital innovation strategy for Roche

We developed a digital health strategy and identified multiple growth opportunities based on changing patient needs and the rise of new technologies.

An airtight business model for self-diagnosis app Caidr

Healthcare company Clinova asked us to challenge their business model and think like potential investors ahead of the launch of their symptom-checker app, Caidr.

Movement Health 2030

Building sustainable healthcare ecosystems, based on local partnerships.

Redesigning the pension journey for AXA

How our co-creation program with bank and insurance provider AXA helped improve the pension sales process for brokers and redesign the customer journey.

Taking launch excellence to the next level with AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca teamed up with Board of Innovation to help achieve first-class launch excellence.

An actionable innovation strategy for SOS Children’s Villages

We enabled the NGO to co-develop an innovation framework, re-map ongoing projects, and align innovation efforts internationally.

Unlocking new innovative flavor experiences

Helping McCormick validate the potential of new digital experience food-concepts.

Social change: HIV prevention in Myanmar

Scaling up and achieving sustainability of high-quality HIV prevention and treatment services in Myanmar.

2 business concepts funded by Unilin

A story of intrapreneurship, talent management, innovation, and technology.

Roche’s Entrepreneurship Program

Harnessing the innovation appetite and transforming it to viable business cases.

One step closer to meaningful innovation

Keep yourself in the know, get our Newsletter

Let's get in touch!​

Let’s book a call to find out how we helped organizations like yours. We’ll give you detailed information about our industry specific experience.

Let's get in touch!

After you fill in this form, one of our experts will reach out and talk to you.