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Cash 101: Cash and Voucher Assistance Explained

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The Donor Cash Forum

The Donor Cash Forum (DCF) is an informal body for donors to discuss and develop shared positions that will advance and improve humanitarian cash programming. The DCF currently comprises representatives from Canada, DG ECHO, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US (BHA and BPRM).


The DCF aims to improve the coherence, efficiency and effectiveness of the humanitarian cash assistance received by people affected by crises. It focuses on maximising gains in effectiveness and efficiency by promoting complementarity and reducing duplication through improvements in humanitarian programming.

The Common Donor Approach (CDA) was developed in recognition that Grand Bargain commitments to promote greater consideration, use and coordination of cash modalities to meet basic needs would require a coordinated vision from donors to collectively support ways of working. The CDA enshrines the principles of accountability, coherence, efficiency, effectiveness, and localisation, but recognises that country-specific plans will be required to determine meaningful actions in different contexts.

The Joint Donor Statement (JDS) on Humanitarian Cash Transfers is built on the CDA by identifying priorities, including: collaboration across sectors; the use of single payments to meet different needs where conditions allow; greater access to accountability mechanisms and responsiveness; protection mainstreaming; data interoperability; and linkages with social protection systems.

DCF Aims and Objectives

  1. Serve as a forum for technical exchange where donors can discuss pending or recent developments in the field of humanitarian cash programming. This includes serving as a forum to discuss areas of difference, resolve dilemmas, or come to joint positions as appropriate.
  2. Improve policy and decision-making exchanges between donors at the global and country levels on humanitarian cash programming, either through:
    1. Supporting and engaging with donor counterparts in focus countries, or
    2. Identifying specific strategic/thematic issues at country level that the DCF will commit to collectively addressing.
  3. Advance global strategic priorities, which donors are uniquely placed to drive forward, including through developing joint position papers and/or principles/statements.
  4. Facilitate collective engagement with partners (in line with DCF strategic priorities) and vis-à-vis key policy processes (e.g. executive board meetings, Grand Bargain), and develop joint positioning wherever possible/appropriate.

DCF members acknowledge the benefits of cash as an effective and people-centred modality. Cash can help people affected by conflict or disaster to regain a sense of normalcy, interact as equals in the marketplace, engage productively with host communities, and support local economies.


Established in 2019, some of the DCF’s key achievements to date are:

Ways of working

  • The DCF is an informal body. Chairmanship is rotational, with two co-chairs elected every 12 months.
  • The group meets monthly online, organising additional meetings on the thematic workstreams and ad-hoc meetings on other specific topics as required.
  • In-person meetings are ad-hoc, typically on the margins of relevant events.
  • Working groups are formed to advance specific topics, and outputs from these groups are endorsed by the wider group.
  • Members seek to have appropriate technical- or policy-level participation, and to maintain consistency in representation. Flexibility and collegiality are paramount.
  • At the end of every calendar year, the group will assess its experience to date, evaluate its value added, and determine any next steps.
  • DCF membership is contingent on signing up to the principles in the joint donor statement on humanitarian cash transfers.

How to join

If you are a donor cash focal point who has signed or is interested in signing the Joint Donor Statement on Humanitarian Cash Transfers, please get in touch with the co-chairs using the contact details below.

Co-chair contacts

John Lamm, USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance,  




Laura Meissner, USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (Univ. of Arizona),



Ellen Lee, U.S. State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, 


CashCap technical support

In 2023, the DCF is supported by an independent team of technical experts engaged through CashCap/NORCAP.

As an independent collaboration the Zebs use their own expertise (and engage others where needed) to provide strategic, technical and administrative support to DCF members.

“Achieving the DCF outcomes requires engaging with the DCF as an entity (particularly the co-chairs), but more than this, it requires engaging with individual DCF representatives and their institutions, to fulfil the JDS commitments, particularly at country level.” DCF member commenting on the importance of the Zebs.

For more Information about our vision, history and annual priorities, please see the document below.

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