Combatting Donor Fatigue With Solutions That Bring Hope

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This page features both the film of Sean Carroll speaking at Anera’s Annual Gala on September 30, 2022, and, below that, the transcript of the main part of his remarks.

We sometimes run out of words strong enough to do justice to the injustices and challenges in the countries where Anera works. But you hear some pretty powerful ones: apartheid, corruption, criminal negligence, forced migration, forced early childhood marriage, extreme poverty, currency plunge, runaway inflation, missiles and bombs… Still, the calamities and strains occurring and recurring over the past three years are speech-defying and, mostly, though not consistently-enough, death-defying. COVID, the Beirut blast, the two recent bombing campaigns on Gaza, the collapse of Lebanon’s economy and institutions, the intensifying violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the absence of talks or even any hope for long-term peace and Palestinian statehood. And, around the world, too-frequent climate disasters, disruptions in supply chains, the cost of war in Ukraine, and global inflation, add to the challenges endemic to our region. Those are the broad, frontpage headlines of the crises and challenges.

Those are the seemingly never-ending downward spirals that are making some lose hope. They provoke talk of donor fatigue.


Ask the barely teenage girl now taking care of her husband’s abusive family because her desperate parents felt compelled to choose marriage over education, how fatigued she is?

Ask the parents whose children can’t go to school, first because of COVID, and now because teachers’ salaries don’t even cover transportation so they stay home.

Ask the family I met who had to choose between buying food and buying medicine.

Ask the youth whose hope for the future is the impossible dream of an immigrant visa or the nightmare of a dream to be a martyr or to join a desperate crowd of 150 smuggled onto a boat meant to carry far fewer.

Ask the Palestinian farmer, arrested trying to defend, with only his own arms, his farm against an Israeli settler’s attack that broke his arms.

Ask the tech worker who wants the same job in Palestine rather than relying on permits to work in Israel.

Ask the woman who decided that instead of selling her kidney she would hold up a bank with a toy gun – not to rob the bank, but to withdraw $13,000 of her own frozen deposits so she could buy cancer medicine for her sister.

How fatigued are they all?

Now, let’s talk about the hope you provide. How the Anera work you support combats much of this fatigue and desperation. Support from thousands of individual donors from 77 countries, and many institutional, governmental and multilateral donors, including UNICEF and USAID, is making a positive, long-term difference on the ground.

Last year Anera delivered nearly $6 million worth of cancer medicines in Lebanon and Palestine. This year, as needs rise and government subsidies end, we expect to deliver over $30 million worth.

cancer patient in a hospital bed in Lebanon
A cancer patient in Lebanon receives a treatment Anera provided.

We distribute food and cash vouchers so that families don’t have to make that horrible choice between food or medicine. We provide vocational training, cash for work, and apprenticeships at bakeries, hospitals, and steel mills tailored to match market needs, that convert into full-time, decent-wage jobs.

mother shopping at a grocery store in Gaza

In Palestine, our Women Can program works with women who are now the family’s main breadwinner, to help turn their entrepreneurial ideas into businesses. They are raising livestock, selling handmade clothes, running restaurants and opening beauty salons.

In Lebanon, our SAMA project, working with girls, their families and the broader community, reminds us that with education, instead of early marriage, the sky really is the limit. We are renovating sports centers and organizing sporting events and other community programs that engage youth in healthy, team-building activities.

We’re increasing access to affordable and sustainable energy and water – installing solar panels on irrigation pumps, recycling centers, schools, and community and health centers; and providing water filtration systems, usually run on solar.

The Gaza Sports Club

We’re providing solutions – tools for tomorrow – that create sustainability. Our solar panels on 20 health centers in Lebanon kept those centers operating and the installation cost will be recouped in just two years’ of savings on fuel. And we’re thinking bigger. We want to install solar on 96 community centers in the 12 Palestinian camps in Lebanon. We’re thinking too that if we could put solar on all the public schools in Lebanon, then the donors now paying for generator fuel could instead put that money towards teacher salaries, and 1m kids could go back to school.

To really scale and meet more need, we’re organizing ourselves, with Anera Ventures, to attract impact investments – investments in our impactful work that can be repaid, with interest, by outcomes payers who will pay a premium for guaranteed outcomes. Then our donors can reinvest. Added to our large and generous base of charitable donors and grantees, this will be a game changer.

This is how, together, we combat donor fatigue.



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