Support through practical assistance after disaster

Action Toolkit

Supporting ShelterBox in the field

As there is no such thing as a standard disaster, there is no such thing as a standard response.

Factors such as type of disaster, location of affected population, community capacity, local culture, infrastructure and context will all affect how ShelterBox responds to a disaster. The same is true for how we work with local partners, including Rotary.

This Action Toolkit provides additional information and resources for Rotarians who are wishing to partner with ShelterBox in the field.

Response criteria

At ShelterBox we are impatient to see a world where no family goes without shelter after disaster.

With your help, ShelterBox gives communities the shelter and supplies they need to transform their lives. Unfortunately, the need is ever growing and we aren’t able to help everyone. That is why we have the response criteria which helps us make the tough decisions and prioritise the most vulnerable families around the world who wouldn’t otherwise receive assistance.

We use these questions to help us decide whether a ShelterBox response is appropriate based on the need, what aid we can offer and if we have the available resources. We also recognise that in some cases we are not the best suited to help, and these questions help us ensure that we are reaching families and communities with whom ShelterBox aid will provide what they need, when they need it.

Read about our ‘Response Criteria’ here

Learn more about how we get aid to the families who need it most

Procurement and transportation

To provide the most appropriate aid as efficiently as possible, the items come from a variety of sources. Our aid is now often sent directly from manufacturers or from stock pre-positioned in “hubs” such as Panama or Dubai, increasing the flexibility of responses, reducing costs and increasing speed.

The items we supply are chosen with suitability and durability in mind, and comply with are assessed against international humanitarian standards. We also need to be certain that our suppliers meet basic minimum standards around financial management and corporate social responsibility to ensure best use of donors’ money.

Although we purchase items from suppliers in many countries around the world, we are not in a position to be able to consistently apply our procurement policy to purchasing within the countries where we respond. Because of this, we do not currently undertake widespread local procurement of aid items and rely on the ability to import the aid instead.


To import aid into a country we need to operate within the normal regulatory framework. This requires the use of a consignee – someone who will officially receive the items on our behalf and who will act with us to help clear the aid through customs.

The items remain the property of ShelterBox throughout this process but the consignee will be the official recipient of the aid when it first arrives.

In order to ensure that donors’ money is put to the best use possible, we will always try to ensure that importation is free of tax and import duties, although in some circumstances, we may need to balance cost against speed in order to best serve an affected community.

Once distributed, the aid becomes the property of the family who have received it.


To maximise our resources, we will often try to work in partnership with organisations and groups that have an established presence in the area where we are responding. This could be a local Red Cross or Red Crescent society, an international development agency or a local community organisation whose goals, methods and values complement our own. This might involve us sharing information, skills and people to implement distributions.

In places where the security situation means we cannot operate safely and effectively, or where support will be required over many months, such as in Syria or the Chad basin, we partner with local humanitarian organisations to oversee operations remotely on our behalf. This approach enabled us to assist over 10,000 families in Syria in 2017 alone.


Comprising a mix of volunteers and staff, our highly trained Response Teams deliver aid to those who need it most, based on detailed needs assessments and in coordination with the wider humanitarian response. They provide tailored support to individual families, as well as delivering the training and skills to ensure greater resilience for the future.

A post-distribution review with the affected community and partner organisations ensures that the most vulnerable receive the aid they need. The collection of appropriate data supports accountability to both beneficiaries and donors alike.

What we achieve

At ShelterBox, we strongly believe that the impact that aid has is more important than the simple volume of items delivered. We monitor, test and evaluate what we do and how we do it by talking to, and learning from, the families we support. This fuels us to be innovative and to continue improving to better meet the needs of affected families.

We put the needs of communities at the heart of everything we do and underline our commitment as signatories to the IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent) Code of Conduct and the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability.

Our work aims to keep families and communities together, increasing feelings of stability and togetherness during a time of unprecedented global conflict and displacement.

The future

Predictions indicate that by 2025 an estimated 200 million people per year may be in need of emergency shelter.

At ShelterBox, we aim to reach as many families as possible. This will require a huge effort and a massive increase in both resources and support.

There will always be disasters we can’t respond to and some people we won’t be able to reach but with Rotary’s support, whether through fundraising, increasing global awareness of our work or by supporting us after disasters, we can ensure we assist as many people as possible in their hour of need.

Are you interested in getting involved with ShelterBox on deployments?

Learn more about working with ShelterBox on deployments and the next steps in getting involved.

Explore more

Our Aid

Discover the aid items that help families rebuild their lives after disaster

Our impact

Meet the people your support is helping

More Action Toolkit Resources

Donation information

Donation information and resources for Rotarians who are wishing to fundraise for ShelterBox in their Club or District.

Training centre

The ShelterBox training centre will provide you with resources used by our expert ShelterBox training team.