Humanitarian Patches: funding underfunded emergencies
In browsing our store, you might notice a stark contrast between our travel patches and what we call our humanitarian patches.
Our travel patches are a classic souvenir that we improved upon, both with our stick-on adhesive but primarily through the fact that they benefit nonprofits supporting the places each patch represents. This gives travelers an easy way to give back to the communities they visit (along with a locally designed keepsake they can remember their trip by).
We found this made intuitive sense but…what about the places most people don’t visit?
Unfortunately, places off the beaten path tend to correspond with communities in greater need. Meaning while most travelers might not have Somalia, Afghanistan, or the Central African Republic on their bucket list, people in these countries could probably benefit the most from the funds we raise through the sale of our patches.
Our solution was a line of humanitarian patches, whose proceeds would benefit these communities in crisis with little or no tourism traffic. We decided to organize this line of patches by theme so our customers could support the causes they care about and have the funds go towards these communities.
The question remained though of how to “fairly” select the countries our patches would support. To do that we turned to a pre-existing framework created by the United Nations (UN).
The UN, with its various sub-organizations and departments, is the primary international mechanism for responding to humanitarian crises and emergencies across the globe. So when a devastating catastrophe like the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami struck, killing over 200 thousand people primarily across Indonesia, Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka, the UN’s various organizations received funding from states all over the world and used it to respond to the disaster.
The international community recognized a major flaw within this system though which was that while countries and their citizens were willing to fund responses to headline grabbing conflicts and disasters, there were plenty of crises across the world that were receiving scant attention and funding. Basically, funds tend to get to the places of greatest attention but not necessarily the greatest need.
The solution was the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), a general emergency fund that countries contribute continuously to and the UN can use to plug the holes where the need is greatest.
To determine where exactly that need is, CERF employs a thorough methodology to assess the severity of humanitarian crises and how underfunded the responses to those crises are.
Each year, CERF publishes a list of countries classified as underfunded humanitarian crises. Those are the countries we target for support.
Like with our travel patches though, we wanted to adhere to the principle that the people most capable of addressing the needs of a community are the people living in them. So, while many international organizations are doing amazing work within some of these underfunded humanitarian crises, we deliberately partner with local organizations, run by nationals of the countries we’re trying to support.