Donations: frequently asked questions

1) I have a question about my donation. Can you help?

Yes! Please email with the details of your donation and we will assist you as best we can.

2) Can I ensure my money goes to a particular country or project?

We always ask our supporters to first consider making a general donation to UNHCR as your gift can then go towards funding our vital, lifesaving operations all around the world, and we can direct your donation to the most vulnerable people as new emergencies arise. Situations where people have run for their lives can change very quickly, and UNHCR has to juggle its operational and finite financial resources to ensure that we get to everyone who needs our help as quickly as possible.

However, you can make donations to specific UNHCR appeals for certain regions, like our Syria Emergency appeal, our Rohingya Emergency appeal, or other emergency appeals.

3) How will my donation be used to help refugees?

All of UNHCR’s programmes are designed to help find lasting solutions to refugees’ problems, whether it is helping them return home or settle in other countries. The agency’s work around the world falls under these main sectors: shelter, health care and nutrition, income generation, water and sanitation, education, legal assistance and protection.

All programmes and sectoral projects are intended to mitigate the harsh circumstances in which refugees find themselves and to create opportunities to re-establish their lives. Special focus is given to the most vulnerable, especially women, children, older people and those living with disabilities. Your donation could go towards funding any of these vital activities.

4) How much of my donation is spent on helping refugees versus admin costs and other overheads?

For each appeal, the percentage spent directly on supporting refugees may vary. As a principle we allocate as many funds as possible to the refugees and the people of concern that we take care of.

UNHCR's administrative costs account for approximately 7 percent of the total budget. In terms of staff, out of the 11,517 staff members, some 87 percent working directly in the field locations to help refugees and people in need.

Fundraising, public awareness and advocacy costs represent only 1 percent of UNHCR's total budget.

5) My donation has been refused. Can you help?

A payment could be refused for a number of reasons, by either your bank or our payment processor, including:

  • The payment method is unusual for your card and the bank blocked the transaction for security reasons
  • The donation form you completed contains incorrect information (misspellings etc.) so our payment provider flagged the donation as potentially fraudulent
  • Lack of funds

In order to resolve the issue, we would suggest that you double check with your bank to see if they halted the donation for some reason and to liaise with them further. Alternatively, we can provide you with other details for how you can donate offline. Please email for more details.

6) I have written a song or created a product and would like to partner with UNHCR to give you a share of my proceeds. Can I do this?

It is great that you wish to support refugees in such a creative way. For UNHCR, to partner with an individual or organization for fundraising purposes is a complex process, often with legal implications. We are therefore unable to do this as often as we would like. In most cases, the best way for you to support UNHCR with your project is to fundraise for us individually and to then make a single donation to us. However, if you would like to discuss your project further, please email

7) I wish to donate blankets, clothes, food or toys. Is this possible?

While we appreciate that many of our donors want to do something more than raise money, it really is the case that, at the moment, monetary donations are what is most required.

For our organization, the logistics of collecting such items from many different locations and sending them to refugee camps would not be efficient. Items like these are distributed from the closest central UNHCR stockpiles and flown by chartered flights to location.

What we most need at the moment in order to support these vulnerable refugees is monetary donations so that we can provide them with the most appropriate assistance, as and when they need it. Monetary donations can be converted into whatever is most needed for refugees, anywhere in the world, and benefit the maximum number of people.

8) What else can I do to help?

You could help by volunteering or by telling people about how you are helping UNHCR and refugees around the world.