When you donate to refugees, where does your money go?

Where is my money going? Is it reaching the families I wish to help? How is it impacting their lives?
If you are reading this, chances are you are interested in learning more about our work and asking yourself one of these questions.

What does UNHCR do, and what exactly are you funding with your donation?

We are a global organization that has a core duty to protect people who are forced to flee due to violence, persecution, war or disaster at home. Our job is to save lives and build better futures for millions forced away from their homes.
To read more about our work and how we save lives click here.

Why do we ask for funding from the public? 

UNHCR is one of the few UN agencies that depend almost entirely on voluntary contributions to fund their operations. This reliance on voluntary funds, combined with a large and unexpected refugee crisis, has in recent years resulted in serious funding shortages. (UNHCR typically receives only half the money it needs each year).
The result? Underfunding has a severe effect on the organization’s ability to respond to the needs of the people it is mandated to serve.

Where does my donation go?

When you donate through giving.unhcr.org, your donation goes to fund one of our critical programmes; from emergency response to sustaining lifesaving support for refugees. UNHCR has proudly pioneered our Cash Assistance programme in the MENA region which enables refugee and internally displaced families across Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Yemen to fulfil their families’ basic needs in a dignified way while maintaining a sense of normality away from home. Other critical programmes include Health, Education, and more recently COVID-19, among others. You can select which of UNHCR’s programmes you would like to support, and expect to receive updates about the work that we are doing for refugees thanks to your generosity.

How is your donation received by the families you wish to help?

In the case of general donations, more than 93% of every donation goes directly to provide refugee families through one of our critical programmes; such as providing shelter, basic relief items, cash assistance, and support for healthcare, education, or livelihoods. Our administration costs range between 3 and 7%.
In the case of Zakat giving, 100% of all donations go directly to eligible families without deduction and in line with the Fatwas given to the Refugee Zakat Fund. You can learn more about our Refugee Zakat Fund.

How do you know the impact of your donation?

We pride ourselves with the efficient and responsible allocation of resources with the aim of benefiting refugees and displaced people around the world.
We send all our donors quarterly reports showcasing how their money was used and the impact of their donation on the lives of the people we serve, together.
You can download our latest report here or watch these testimonials from families directly.
Got any further questions? Our donor care team will happily answer. Contact us at [email protected].

How Do Refugee Families Receive your Donations


Refugees and IDPs are registered and their iris scan taken where possible for additional security.


A needs-assessment is done to assess vulnerability.

family Selected

Eligible families are selected.

Donation Online

Donations are received online.

UNHCR Projects

Donations are directed to essential programmes and projects such as Shelter, Water, Education, Health or emergencies as they happen, wherever help is most needed.

Distribution Money
UNHCR's Cash Assistance

In cases of protracted crises (such as Syria) or in emergencies such as Winter, families receive support directly as Cash Assistance.

money Allocated

Funds allocated to programs or emergency situations accordingly.

Shelter Supply

Programs are implemented or core relief item distributed through partners and staff members.

Post Distribution

Post distribution Monitoring to Evaluate impact.


Beneficiaries receive an SMS notification of assistance availability or delivery.


Cash withdrawal from ATM through Iris scan or cards.

Program Implemented

Post distribution Monitoring to Evaluate impact.


UNHCR donation destination