Humanitarian Coalition, Canada

Humanitarian Coalition

  • Population: 36.3 million
  • Year of foundation: 2005 (informal), 2010 (formal)
  • Staff size: 5
List of members:
  • Canadian Lutheran World Relief
  • CARE Canada
  • Islamic Relief Canada
  • Oxfam Canada
  • Oxfam-Québec
  • Plan International Canada
  • Save the Children Canada
Private & Public Sector Partners:
  • Bell Media
  • Shaw
  • Metro News
  • eBay
  • 20 Vic Management Inc
  • Paypal
  • Rogers TV
  • Pattison Onestop
  • Rona
  • CBC
  • University of Ottawa
  • Canadian Business for Social Responsibility



The Humanitarian Coalition was formed on the premise that competition limits the humanitarian sector’s collective ability to deliver assistance to disaster survivors. Humanitarian Coalition members work together in times of disaster to reduce the duplication of costs, speak to Canadians with one voice, raise awareness on the value of collective response and make giving as easy as possible.

The commitment to form the Humanitarian Coalition emerged after criticism of excessive NGO competition in the aftermath of the 2005 Asian Tsunami. A first pilot joint appeal was launched for the Pakistan earthquake in 2005. By 2010 the Humanitarian Coalition was incorporated as a separate legal entity and it became a leading actor in the Canadian humanitarian fundraising landscape following the Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods that year.


The Humanitarian Coalition currently has seven member agencies: Canadian Lutheran World Relief, CARE Canada, Islamic Relief Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Plan Canada and Save the Children Canada. It is accountable to its member agencies through the board of directors and is managed on their behalf by the executive director and a secretariat of seven staff. The members contribute directly to management and oversight of the collective initiative through standing committees populated by appointees from their respective staff. The Humanitarian Coalition abides by relevant codes of conduct such as SPHERE and the Canadian Council for International Cooperation’s Code of Ethics and Operational Standards. Funds raised are distributed by a pre-established formula based on members’ capacity. A minimum of 85% is allocated to members’ programs. Operating costs are paid for by members’ annual contributions. Accountability is provided for through unique joint evaluation of member programs. These evaluations are shared for learning, through events and on its website.

The Humanitarian Coalition further seeks to promote awareness of humanitarian issues and support sector dialogue on latest learning, trends and policy.


The Humanitarian Coalition appeals make use of TV and radio spots, newspaper ads and online banners that are provided free of charge by media partners. There are several important media partnerships, primarily with commercial TV, radio, print media as well as Digital Out of Home (DOOH). Where appropriate, ads may be purchased on Google and Facebook and in certain newspapers.

Successes and highlights

With the support of Global Affairs Canada, the Humanitarian Coalition has created the Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Fund (CHAF) to provide assistance for smaller scale disasters which do not receive media attention and where funding for relief efforts is not available elsewhere.

The Humanitarian Coalition was able to mobilize strong Canadian generosity during an appeal for the 2011 East Africa drought, demonstrating the power of collective action to influence media and public awareness. Some $14.5 million was contributed for that appeal, a sum far superior to expectations for a slow onset crisis of this nature.


Humanitarian Coalition has one part time staff member working on partnership development. Though none of these are formal, the Humanitarian Coalition has established partnerships with several media organisations. Support from a variety of sectors include radio fundraising initiatives, online promotions, and the waiving of credit card fees during some of the Humanitarian Coalition appeals. In addition to private sector engagement, the Humanitarian Coalition hopes to increase direct partnership with the Canadian Government through joint initiatives such as the Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Fund.

Challenges and innovations for the future

Humanitarian Coalition has the opportunity to be the one stop shop for Canadians and to increase the scale of per capita giving in Canada. 80% of donors to the Humanitarian Coalition have never given to any of their member organisations. Nevertheless, forty years of competition and brand development in Canada has led to significant barriers in increasing Humanitarian Coalition membership as prospective members weigh collaboration against perceptions of potential loss of public profile.