The current refugee crisis, which has seen more than half a million people flee their home nations for the relative safety of Europe’s borders, has prompted a swathe of "DIY" fundraising initiatives in Sweden, according to one sector leader at EFA’s annual Skillshare in November.
Speaking at the Skillshare, Maria Ros Jernberg of FRII (the Swedish Fundraising Association) described the current situation, saying: “With the growth of the refugee crisis and increased visibility around their plight, people naturally want to do something to help.
“It’s not just a case of people turning up with supplies for refugees, but we have seen an explosion of individual fundraising initiatives by people with no previous experience in the field.
“What is more, many of the public – with the view that it is more effective to donate directly to an individual rather than via aid agencies – have flocked to donate.”
The crisis is said to have exposed a series of myths around NGOs and their use of funds. Some people believed that they would be able to raise funds more effectively than established NGOs and that they would be able to ensure the money went direct to the cause. The perception was that NGOs were too big, too slow and the experience and knowledge that they have was greatly undervalued.
“Many individuals started their own fundraising campaigns and one private initiative consisting of a group of people is known to have raised more than €1.5 million to aid refugees. This money was directed to one individual's private bank account. Once the money was in the bank, it was clear that, although the groups effort's were very well intentioned, they did not have the expertise to know what to do with all of it and they are now seeking advice and partnerships with established NGOs.”
Ros Jernberg reported that NGOs inevitably must take some time to evaluate situations, looking at the need, the best way to meet that need and prioritising their actions accordingly. They also need a sizable workforce to deliver aid where it is needed most.
She says: “In trying their hand at raising money and delivering aid to refugees, many of these individuals now have a better understanding of the challenges that NGOs face, why they work in this way and, ultimately, will have greater confidence in their delivery.”