Charity for Venezuelan refugees lags support for other groups

Migrants arriving in the United States from Venezuela generally receive significantly lower financial support from the philanthropic community compared to other refugee groups, an issue that advocates push to change as the number of Venezuelans fleeing conditions in their native country continues to swell. An estimated 10 percent of the country’s population has already left.

A recent report by the Organization of American States finds that about $5,000 in funding was granted per Syrian refugee, compared to less than $300 per Venezuelan refugee.

It’s not that individuals and organizations don’t want to help, says Amalia Greenberg Delgado of the Washington-based Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), but rather that the help is not as organized or well-known as assistance for other groups. HIP recently organized a forum in the nation’s capital that brought together dozens of philanthropic organizations and funders nationwide and from abroad to discuss how best to tackle assistance for Venezuelans.

“There are more and more Venezuelans that are outside of the country (Venezuela) who are interested in providing support to Venezuelan migrants,” Delgado tells the Caplin News. “We know that there is a need to help organize that sort of interest and that support, and through HIPGive, we have the ability to be able to organize and mobilize and they have that funding to (support) refugee organizations and other countries.”

HIPGive and its online arm, Venezuelans Moving Forward, is a fundraising platform recently created by HIP as part of an effort to mobilize those interested in supporting Venezuelan migrants.  It includes funding tools such as community-led fundraising programs called “digital giving circles” and matching grants to support Venezuelan refugees.

“We’re looking for individuals who want to lead and have their names on this digital giving circle so that we can encourage and motivate other people to give in a way that can have an impact,” said Delgado. It’s a bit more formal than something like GoFundMe so that people can come together and also think about the strategies around how their money will be used.”

HIPGive vets the organizations that are able to provide funds transfers and are giving these nonprofits a platform to present themselves to a wider audience.

“What’s different about the digital giving circles is that we’re connecting the individual funders with where they want to give and how they want to give, so it’s really about moving the funders and building the power of giving through that circle,” Delgado adds.

HIPGive’s current focus is to create parity for Venezuelan refugees in accordance with the ongoing humanitarian crisis in that South American country. The organization says that this can be achieved through further awareness of the living conditions of both those who remain in Venezuela and those who have left.

“I would look to regional organizations … that are following the regional response, applauding the good things, and condemning the gaps – of which there are many,” said Geoff Ramsey, assistant director for Venezuela at the advocacy group Washington Office on Latin America and one of the groups that is participating in fundraising efforts for Venezuelan refugees.

“The important thing to focus not on short term immediate solutions, but on medium and long-term ones,” said Ramsey. “Venezuelans deserve solidarity that doesn’t end the moment they leave their country.”

The majority of Venezuelan refugees in the United States live in South Florida and Venezuela has become the top country of origin for asylum claims in the U.S, with 30,000 applying last year alone.

Daniel Lederman is a reporter in the Caplin News’s Washington, D.C., Bureau.


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