Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Grand Bargain?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Grand Bargain?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Grand Bargain?

What is the Grand Bargain?

  • The ‘Grand Bargain’ is an agreement between the biggest donors and aid organizations that aims to get more means into the hands of people in need. It is essentially a ‘Grand Bargain on efficiency’ between donors and humanitarian organizations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian action. The Grand Bargain is the only agreement that has brought together donors and aid organizations, and it envisions a ‘level playing field where all meet as equals’. It also promotes a ‘quid pro quo’ spirit of reciprocity as both sides commit to contributing their share.
  • The Grand Bargain is an attempt to reduce the funding gap between needs and available resources – estimated in 2016 at US$ 15 billion. The Grand Bargain is intended to complement efforts to shrink needs and to broaden the resource base to enhance collaboration and trust among humanitarian actors.
  • The Grand Bargain necessitates a series of changes in the working practices of donors and aid organizations that could deliver additional resources for people in need of humanitarian aid. These changes include gearing-up cash programming, greater funding for national and local responders, improving transparency and cutting bureaucracy through harmonized reporting requirements.

  • The Grand Bargain sets out 51 commitments, distilled into 10 thematic workstreams (nine after the first quarter of 2018, when workstream 10 was closed and streamlined as a cross-cutting commitment within the other workstreams). These workstreams aim at organizing strategically the work towards delivering the 51 commitments, and include, increasing multi-year planning and funding, and improving joint and impartial needs assessments.

What are the origins of the Grand Bargain?

  • The Grand Bargain was first proposed by the former UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing in its report “Too Important to Fail: addressing the humanitarian financing gap as one of the solutions to address the widening gap between humanitarian needs and available resources. 

  • Its recommendations - issued in January 2016 - included measures to reduce the need for humanitarian action through investments in preparedness, risk-reduction and mitigation. Avenues to deepen and broaden the resource base for humanitarian action were also proposed, along with “a Grand Bargain on efficiency”. The latter included a call to aid organizations and donors to work more closely together, as well as specific commitments for both constituencies. “The Grand Bargain – A Shared Commitment to Better Serve People in Need” was officially launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 and signatories committed to specific actions, grouped in 10 work-streams and 51 commitments. The 10 work-streams are:
  1. Greater transparency
  2. More support and funding tools to local and national responders as directly as possible
  3. Increase the use and coordination of cash-based programming
  4. Reduce duplication and management costs with periodic functional reviews
  5. Improve joint and impartial needs assessments
  6. A participation revolution: include people receiving aid in making the decisions which affect their lives
  7. Increase collaborative humanitarian multi-year planning and funding
  8. Reduce the earmarking of donor contributions
  9. Harmonize and simplify donor requirements
    Enhance engagement between humanitarian and development actors - Closed and streemlined as cross-cutting commitment within the other work-streams)
  • It is anticipated that the implementation of the sum of the Grand Bargain commitments will result in better humanitarian aid moving from a supply-driven model dominated by aid providers, to a demand-driven model, more responsive to the people being assisted. Humanitarian actors will also become more efficient in working together.

  • Since its launch, many Grand Bargain Signatories have actively taken steps to institutionalize the commitments and integrate them into their policies and strategies, and in some cases, into activities in the field. Concrete results have also been yielded in some of the 10 different Grand Bargain workstreams (nine at the beginning of 2018, as workstream 10 has been closed), particularly in increasing the use and coordination of cash programming; advancing common standards and coordinated approaches for community engagement and ‘a participation revolution’; testing a common template for harmonized and simplified reporting; and advancing the provision of multi-year planning and financing. Examples of concrete Grand Bargain actions can be found here.

What is the structure of the Grand Bargain?

The Signatories created a light set of institutions - the Grand Bargain architecture - to maintain the momentum of the process.  Each workstream is led by two Co-convenors - typically a donor and an implementing organization - who work towards advancing specific Grand Bargain commitments. The Co-convenors prioritize and streamline their activities within their respective workstreams, whilst also striving to work closely with other Co-convenors to reinforce workstream linkages and synergies where they appear.   

The Grand Bargain is championed by an Eminent Person, responsible for promoting and advocating for the advancement of the Grand Bargain commitments. Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation (the Netherlands), took over in 2019 as the Grand Bargain Eminent Person, succeeding Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, The World Bank.

The Grand Bargain also includes a Facilitation Group and a Secretariat, which have annual workplans that set out goals and actions for the year. 

The Grand Bargain Facilitation Group:

  • Following decisions taken at the Grand Bargain meeting held on Bonn on 5-6 September 2016, a Facilitation Group was established to provide continued momentum to the overall Grand Bargain process.
  • The composition of the Facilitation Group is reflective of the different Grand Bargain constituencies: NGOs, donors, Red Cross societies and United Nations agencies. The members of this group do not automatically represent the views of the whole of their constituencies. Thus, viewpoints and perspectives are solicited from their counterparts prior to taking decisions.
  • The Facilitation Group acts as a problem-solving mechanism: it analyses issues to propose recommendations to the wider Grand Bargain community. Through coordination and information sharing, it also supports the activities across the Grand Bargain workstreams and encourages coherence. To improve the governance of the Grand Bargain, since June 2018, the Facilitation Group acts as a consensus-based governance body of the Grand Bargain process and reinforces its interface with the Eminent Person. The Facilitation Group ToRs are available here.

    2018/2019 Facilitation Group: USA, Sweden, OCHA, UNICEF, IFRC and InterAction
    2017/2018 Facilitation Group: Germany, United Kingdom, OCHA, UNHCR, ICRC and InterAction
    2016/2017 Facilitation Group: ECHO, Switzerland, WFP, OCHA, UN Women, IFRC and SCHR

The Grand Bargain Secretariat

  • The Grand Bargain process is supported by a Secretariat hosted by the Secretariat of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee

  • One of the roles of the Grand Bargain Secretariat is to assist the Grand Bargain Facilitation Group in steering the Grand Bargain process forward through enhanced coordination, information sharing, communication and advocacy.

  • The Grand Bargain Secretariat also helps to enhance cooperation and communication with signatories and non-members to make the Grand Bargain process more inclusive and transparent.

 What does it mean to be a Grand Bargain Signatory?

While the Grand Bargain is not a binding agreement, Signatories to the Grand Bargain are committing that:

  • they accept the principles and the spirit of the Grand Bargain;
  • they take the commitments seriously;
  • they agree to the ‘quid pro quo’ approach;
  • they will be transparent in reporting annually on what they have achieved, and on what they are still working on;
  • they consent to their self-reports being published on the Grand Bargain webpage.

It is important to note that being a Grand Bargain Signatory means being a member to the whole Grand Bargain process. It is not possible to focus only on specific topics or workstream activities, rather it is necessary to work towards advancing the activities of all ten Grand Bargain workstreams.

How does my organization sign up? How do I link up with specific workstreams?

For states, agencies, organizations and institutions that wish to engage with the Grand Bargain, please contact the Grand Bargain Secretariat. The standard document that interested Signatories are required to complete is available here. This enables to detail what their organizations and institutions have been undertaking to date to achieve the objectives of the 9 workstreams and of the cross-cutting commitment on Humanitarian Development Nexus, as well as what is being planned in the future.

However, you do not need to have signed up to the Grand Bargain to engage with a specific workstream.

How is the implementation of the Grand Bargain commitments being monitored?

Grand Bargain Signatories submit an annual self-report that provides data for the Annual Independent Grand Bargain Report. The self-report is made public on the Grand Bargain webpage. An independent group of consultants is tasked with producing the Annual Independent Report, which is commissioned by the Grand Bargain Facilitation Group.

Where do I find out more about the Grand Bargain?

For more information on the Grand Bargain please contact the Grand Bargain Secretariat at


Grand Bargain secretariat