This week, TripAdvisor announced that The TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation will give at least $5 million in financial support towards refugee relief work in the next two years. $2 million will go to the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps, two organizations working in the Middle East and Europe, with the additional $3 million to be disbursed over the next several years. The company will also draw on its own expertise to provide technology that helps refugees make “smart and informed decisions.”
This courageous commitment comes at a crucial global moment. In 2015, 65.3 million people were displaced globally. That includes 4.9 million refugees from Syria alone, as well as 6.6 million people who are displaced inside Syria. While governments around the world have tried to step up to accept refugees and give financial support towards providing a humane existence in other countries, there has been a lack of private sector funding going toward addressing this crisis. In many ways, it has been hard for global audiences to understand the prolonged war in Syria and to know how to support the innocent people affected by it.
We are thrilled to see the tide shifting.
Private sector support is an essential component of the global response to humanitarian crises such as this one. When the corporate sphere gets involved, it brings critical resources to bear – money, yes, but also public awareness, industry expertise, and innovative solutions. Corporations can leverage their high level of visibility to magnify social issues, and their consumer base to augment philanthropic support. Last year, as TripAdvisor began its engagement on this issue, it encouraged its travel community to support refugee relief efforts by offering to match gifts up to $5,000 per person, for a total of $375,000 from the foundation.
Other business leaders are also stepping up to help: Amed Khan has partnered with the Radcliffe Foundation, founded by Frank Giustra, to refurbish a 6,000-square-foot abandoned factory in Greece into acceptable housing for refugees. Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya has pledged to give half his personal wealth to support refugees, while also pressing the private sector to provide job training and employment opportunities.
This kind of holistic approach to corporate citizenship—stepping in as a whole company—should be applauded and celebrated, and then replicated. We commend TripAdvisor’s bold leadership on this pressing issue, and hope it spurs other businesses and individuals to take action.