Foundation for the ICRC

The Foundation for the ICRC was established in 1931 to help the ICRC fulfil its vital humanitarian mission, in peacetime as in wartime.


Lanao del Sur, Tamparan, Philippines. People displaced by the 2017 Marawi conflict gather in a gymnasium to register for the livelihood assistance program implemented by the ICRC. Martin San Diego/ICRC

Who we are

The Foundation was established in 1931 to help the ICRC continue to fulfil its vital mission, in peacetime as in wartime. The interwar period was a time of great uncertainty, and the Foundation was seen as a way to secure the future of impartial, neutral and independent humanitarian action.

90 years on, the ICRC faces an entirely different set of challenges in its work, such as the new technologies and changing nature of warfare, and the worsening climate crisis. To meet the needs of people globally, the ICRC and other humanitarian organizations must adapt to these new realities, and quickly, by innovating and harnessing technologies.

What we do

We accelerate humanitarian innovation in order to strengthen the ability of the ICRC, and its partners in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, to prevent and alleviate suffering. In selecting which incubation projects and innovation initiatives to support, we are guided by the principle of humanity – always striving to make the greatest and most lasting impact on behalf of people affected by armed conflict and other violence.

Here are some examples of initiatives we have supported:

  • Engineering Humanitarian Action: a partnership between the ICRC and the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology of Zurich and Lausanne (ETHZ and EPFL) to develop innovative engineering solutions to have a greater humanitarian impact. The partners do this by bringing together their individual research, building on it, and tapping into rapid scientific and technological advances. The solutions they come up with help better protect and support vulnerable people, especially in conflict-affected areas, over a longer period.

  • ICRC Climate and Environment Transition Fund: people living in countries affected by conflict are among the most badly hit by climate change. This innovative fund addresses climate and environmental risks by seeking ways to make humanitarian operations as sustainable as possible and help communities adapt to the combined effects of conflict and climate change.

  • ICRC delegation for cyberspace in Luxembourg: this delegation focuses on digital technologies and how they can be harnessed to serve people affected by armed conflict and other violence effectively and securely. It prioritizes developing and testing new tools to deliver vital digital services to communities. The delegation also explores solutions for protecting humanitarian organizations and the people they serve against digital threats.

The Foundation is also developing an arts initiative. By building bridges with artists from conflict-affected regions and their communities, we can be innovative in the way that we connect with each other and how we respond collectively to humanitarian challenges.

How we work

The engine of the Foundation is its endowment and the dedicated funds it hosts, which generate a steady stream of income. The ICRC invests this income in humanitarian innovation, together with its partners, particularly within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

In 2020, the Foundation was restructured as an umbrella foundation. It can now host dedicated funds established by individuals, for example in memory of a loved one or as part of a family's philanthropic investment plan, or by legal entities, to further their humanitarian ambitions.

To learn more and support the Foundation, contact us at

 In Burundi, many families have been split up over the years due to the recurrent violence. People live with the terror of what might have happened to their relatives. We reunite them with the support of the Burundi Red Cross.