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Philanthropy’s response to the Turkey and Syria earthquake 

Illustration showing a map of the earthquake's location and a sample of the damage.

The earthquakes on February 6 that devastated southern Turkey and northern Syria have left an estimated 54,000 people dead. The disaster also displaced over 1.9 million Turks in temporary shelters and left more than 500,000 Syrians homeless, according to the United Nations. An estimated 2.2 million people in Turkey have fled the earthquake zone, creating even greater humanitarian hardships in a region already affected by hyperinflation, civil war, and political tensions. 

Multilateral support for disaster relief and humanitarian aid began soon after the earthquakes with the World Bank releasing $1.78 billion in emergency funds. The United Nations also issued an appeal for an additional $1 billion in aid, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development pledged €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion) to Turkey. Furthermore, the European Union has allocated €12 million ($12.7 million) for relief work in Turkey and €10 million ($10.6 million) in Syria. The United States has provided $185 million in assistance through USAID

Philanthropic responses to the Turkey and Syria earthquakes 

Candid has been tracking philanthropy’s response to the Turkey and Syria earthquake and reporting on major giving by corporations and foundations. Here are a few highlights of what we have learned in the past month: 

  • Candid has identified 310 grants worth $143.9 million and an additional 50 pledges worth $51.1 million for total commitments of $195 million. 
  • Various Red Cross federations (American Red Cross, Turkish Red Crescent, and Syrian Arab Red Crescent) have received 47 grants worth $19.2 million. 
  • 70% of grants and pledges were made with identifiable announcement dates, with 83.5% of the total dollar value captured in the first 14 days of data collection. 
  • The IKEA Foundation, a Dutch foundation established by IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, has committed $21.4 million—representing the largest contribution from any foundation. 
  • 55% of grants and pledges and 50% of the total dollar value of contributions and commitments have come from corporate giving programs. 

Corporations headquartered in Germany—home to over three million ethnic Turks and approximately one million refugees from Syria—have responded to the crisis by contributing more than €16.7 million ($17.87 million). This figure includes €6 million ($6.42 million) from Allianz, €1.5 million ($1.6 million) from Bayer, and €1 million ($1.07 million) each from Henkel, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Schwarz Gruppe, Siemens, Volkswagen, and Deutsche Telekom

Disaster relief giving by individuals and family foundations  

Candid’s Philanthropy News Digest (PND) has been tracking news about support efforts. Only a relative few independent foundations in the United States and Canada have made public contributions, such as $500,000 from the Patterson Foundation in Florida; $250,000 from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation in Maryland; and $188,000 from the Coram Deo Foundation in Canada. 

Notable individual contributions include $30 million from an anonymous Pakistani donor, who reportedly walked into the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., to make the gift. Individuals have also donated to several campaign funds like the United Kingdom’s Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC)’s Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal, which has raised £101.5 million ($122 million). This figure encompasses contributions from the British royal family and £5 million ($6 million) from the UK government; and the Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF), which raised $11.2 million from 40,000 donors. 
TFP’s  major gifts total $4 million from Giving Pledge signatory, Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of Chobani, and Eren and Fatih Ozmen, co-owners of Sierra Nevada Corporation. To date, TPF has distributed more than $5.5 million in grants to local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Turkey. Recipients of this funding include Çukurova University, which was awarded $500,000 to help fund rehabilitation of children with amputated limbs, and Needs Map, which received $488,340 to help establish a field hospital in the city of Erzin. 

Focusing recovery efforts on strengthening affected communities 

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) views the crisis in Turkey and even more so Syria as a “layered disaster” that combines geopolitics, global economics, a decade-long civil war, and a cholera outbreak. What’s more, CDP notes the failure of infrastructure was avoidable, concluding that the aftermath of the earthquakes “cannot be called a ‘natural disaster.’” Given this region lies figuratively and literally on a fault line, CDP has called for long-term recovery that “incorporates risk reduction and strengthening preparedness and resilience.” 

In an interview with PND, TPF executive director Şenay Ataselim Yılmaz, echoed CDP’s call for recovery efforts centered on constructing stronger communities and infrastructure in equal measure. Ataselim noted, “We need to build resilience in those communities that are on major fault lines by supporting preparedness and disaster risk reduction efforts.”  

Candid will keep sharing news and data on philanthropy’s response to the Turkey and Syria earthquake. We also call on funders to share data about their grantmaking in response to the crisis to ensure that the community is acting on the most comprehensive and accurate information possible. To share your data, please email [email protected]


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    March 31, 2023 7:20 am

    Both Aquabox and ShelterBox are committing a lot of resources to this disaster, and are delivering their services in the field