Hunger Day: Help with crises today and tomorrow

Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma / Punainen Risti

The Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund is like a giant collection box to which people make donations, and with the funds we help those most in need. Let’s collect an all-time jackpot in the box this autumn. Join us and donate!

On Hunger Day, your donation becomes concrete aid: Food, water, shelter. Both abroad and in Finland.

The donations made to the disaster fund allow getting just the help people need, quickly.

How the Red Cross is helping in Finland

Fires, floods, epidemics, information breaches and major accidents are examples of major crises in Finland. Volunteers trained by the Red Cross support those who need help in emergencies and assist the authorities.

Over the past year, hundreds of accident victims received volunteers' help in sudden accidents. Mental support was given to 721 people. Help was also given in cases of fires. 

The Disaster Relief Fund is used to support the activities of the Voluntary Rescue Service Vapepa by training volunteers and funding the costs of alert systems required for rescue operations, for example. This allows us to maintain the preparedness for responding to the various crises in Finland as efficiently as possible. Last year, Vapepa helped approximately 6,200 people, and volunteers helped look for missing persons in 269 separate operations. 

Money buys equipment for an evacuation unit

When a major accident occurs in Finland, such as a public transport or maritime traffic accident, or when an apartment building or a terraced house is burning down, Red Cross volunteers can bring on an evacuation unit.

Peräkärryllä liikuteltavan evakuointiyksikön mukana onnettomuuspaikalle saadaan nopeasti kaikki auttamiseen ja evakuointiin tarvittavat välineet
Peräkärryllä liikuteltavan evakuointiyksikön mukana onnettomuuspaikalle saadaan nopeasti kaikki auttamiseen ja evakuointiin tarvittavat välineet Photo: Tuuli Salminen / Punainen Risti

First aid and mental support volunteers also often come along. Evacuation units can be found all across Finland. They are equipped, and their volunteers trained, with the donated Hunger Day funds.

What does a volunteer do in the event of a crisis?

Our volunteers take care of people's basic needs in times of need. They immediately offer food, beverages and warm clothing to people having gone through a crisis.

Often psychosocial support is also needed in an emergency. Our trained volunteers are there for the people. They listen to the people, focus on giving them realistic hope and help contact loved ones. This gives the authorities the chance to focus on managing the more important and urgent matters and the overall operations.

Volunteers' most important task is to face people in their time of need.

You will help with us abroad 

Right now, help is urgently needed in the earthquake zone of Morocco, in Libya floods, in East Africa, as well as in Afghanistan. East Africa is suffering from the worst drought in decades. The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has worsened significantly over the past two years.

In crisis areas around the world, emergency aid can include first aid training for volunteers, cash grants for families to buy food or a field hospital and its staff.

Right now, your support is needed in East Africa.

Red Cross volunteers are permanently present in almost all countries of the world. Right now, your help is needed for the hunger crisis in East Africa. Women, small children, people fleeing from their homes, the elderly and people with disabilities are the most severely affected. East Africa is suffering from the worst drought in decades, and the number of people requiring food aid has increased to more than 46 million this year.

Climate change is increasing both droughts and floods and making them even more devastating. The conflict in Ukraine is driving the price of food up, which is making everyday survival and purchasing basic foodstuffs even more difficult.

The Finnish Red Cross has provided East Africa with long-term help. In addition to emergency aid, we help people prepare for crises: we develop agriculture, construction or city infrastructure to better withstand the destructive extreme weather phenomena. This will save human lives in the event of another disaster.

The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has worsened significantly over the past two years

An estimated two-thirds of the country's inhabitants need humanitarian assistance. The Finnish Red Cross has continued its aid work in Afghanistan despite the difficult situation. We have offered both humanitarian aid and long-term support.

Field hospital provides help amidst destruction

When a natural disaster or conflict destroys local health care structures, the Red Cross may send a field hospital or clinics to the area along with international hospital staff. This gives the local residents staying in the disaster areas access to treatment. Local health care professionals can carry out their duties in functional premises even if their own hospitals have been damaged. A field hospital can also be set up as an extra facility for a local hospital that is congested due to a major accident. The Red Cross doctors and nurses are a significant support to the local healthcare professionals.

The international aid work of the Red Cross will provide unique expertise that can be used in accidents in Finland as well.


This is how the Disaster Relief Fund helps

The Disaster Relief Fund is not committed to any specific target, meaning that funds can be directed to crisis areas with short notice. When a hurricane wreaks havoc, a drought destroys all chances for normal life or life at a refugee camp becomes unbearable, donations save lives.

Emergency aid means taking care of the basic necessities: clean water, food, soap, blankets, tarpaulins and health care for people who have lost everything. We can also send a field hospital or equipment and support for building IT connections in a crisis area. We deliver aid in cooperation with the local Red Cross or Red Crescent society.

The Disaster Relief Fund also supports development cooperation. We help the community affected by a crisis get back on its feet, prepare for any new crises and deal with them as efficiently as possible.

The need for help can surprise any of us at any time. The Disaster Relief Fund also allows us to help people with emergencies in Finland. For example, people who have lost their homes in fires can receive emergency aid, such as emergency accommodation, clothes and hygiene supplies and psychosocial support.

Donations made for the Disaster Relief Fund ensure that trained volunteers are always ready to provide aid across Finland in sudden accidents and exceptional circumstances. During the coronavirus epidemic, volunteers have helped vulnerable people by distributing food aid and running errands for people in high-risk groups.

The fund also supports the Voluntary Rescue Service that helps the authorities e.g. in finding missing persons.

Here are some examples of what money can buy.

In Finland:

  • €50: training in psychosocial support for a volunteer
  • €180: clothes for a person who has lost their home in a fire
  • A preparedness unit on a trailer: When helping in emergencies, the volunteers bring a mobile preparedness unit with them. These units are located all around Finland, and the funds from the Hunger Day collection are also used to equip them:
    • €5: a blanket
    • €13: a metal petrol canister
    • €87: a carrier gurney for the injured
    • €149: a cordless drill

Around the world:

  • €3 Four kilograms of rice for a family in Somalia.
  • €6 Ten platefuls of maize porridge for children and their carers in a daycare centre in Malawi.
  • €10 A balanced meal for a family of six in Somalia.
  • €20 Two hygiene packages for girls. The packages enable the girls to go to school also during their period.

According to the rules of the Disaster Relief Fund, the collection expenses must not exceed 20 per cent. This means that at least 80 cents of each euro donated goes to an aid operation.

Collection expenses are expenses caused from acquiring the donations, such as the printing and mailing costs of donation request letters, acquisition costs of the collection equipment, marketing costs, and fees collected by external service providers, including operators and banks.

In addition to life-saving aid supplies and their delivery costs, the Disaster Relief Fund can cover the salary costs of Finnish Red Cross aid workers operating in disaster and crisis areas. Such helpers include doctors, nurses and logisticians working in the areas. The Finnish Red Cross does not carry out international aid operations from Finland using volunteers. 

In the target countries, the share of aid workers and local volunteers depends on the situation and task at hand. For example, a field hospital clinic has a 50/50 share between hired employees and volunteers, whereas aid distribution can have one employee responsible for organising the work per 50 volunteers responsible for distribution. 

Of the permanent staff of the Finnish Red Cross, only employees working on fundraising are paid from the Disaster Relief Fund collection profits. The salaries of other staff in Finland are funded from several sources, such as the sales profits of Finnish Red Cross products, membership fees, and funding from various ministries and STEA.

In Finland, Red Cross employees support volunteers in their tasks. The aid work itself is carried out by volunteers, apart from a couple of exceptions. These include tasks in crisis situations that require trained psychologists.

Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers around the world take part voluntarily, out of a desire to help.

The rules of the Disaster Relief Fund and the strict control regulate the use of the donated funds. The accounting of the Finnish Red Cross is audited project-specifically every year, and an annual audit is required from other national associations of the Red Cross. Risk management is essential, because the international Red Cross movement operates in almost all countries in the world, and every country has its own operating culture.

We also analyse our cooperation partners, evaluate their capacity to monitor misconducts, and carry out monitoring ourselves. If the operations do not meet our expectations, we train our cooperation partner to develop their operations. If that does not help, we will withdraw our cooperation. This, also, is development cooperation by the Red Cross.

The Finnish Red Cross has permanent representatives at some aid targets, others we check once a year or more frequently as necessary.

If the target has an external funder, their representatives will visit the aid target to check that reports are accurate and money is spent as agreed.

We also strictly make sure that aid supplies go to those in the greatest need.

Approximately 90% of the donations to the Disaster Relief Fund come from private donors. Your support is essential!

In addition to donors, the aid projects of the Finnish Red Cross are funded by e.g the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO). Since all projects require a funding share from the Disaster Relief Fund, aid work would not be possible without our donors.

Donate to the Disaster Relief Fund

We warmly thank you for your help!

€98.5 million
collected – let’s push it over €100 million this year!

Hunger Day for schools and companies

Hunger Day offers pupils an excellent opportunity to influence matters through their own actions both in Finland and abroad. Involve the pupils and invite the staff, parents and relatives along to help.

Tips for Hunger Day in schools (in finnish)

Companies taking part in Hunger Day are part of a unique chain of aid. Invite staff, stakeholders and customers along to help. 

This is how companies can participate in Hunger Day