How Do Humanitarian Donors Make Decisions, and What Is the Scope for Change?

In this policy paper we review donor responses to a survey and interviews to probe the effects of the broader political and economic context in which donors operate, and identify internal constraints on humanitarian funding, planning, and making allocative decisions. We identify and highlight perceived and real constraints with which donors contend when making decisions on how to allocate limited resources. The way humanitarian donors fund is key to system-wide efficiency, effectiveness, and reforms in the humanitarian system. Donors face competing priorities when engaging in humanitarian response. They care about retaining control, must rely on limited information sources to inform decisions, and balance their approaches with other foreign policy objectives. Institutional legacies, trust, and visibility for their efforts also matter to donors. These factors have shaped how donors have approach their current commitments to Grand Bargain reforms as donors prepare to engage with the newest iteration of reform—the Grand Bargain 2.0.

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