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AIRBNB’s new not-for-profit arm to support front line workers, volunteers fighting the spread of COVID-19

3 min read

Vacation rental online marketplace Airbnb announced the launch of Airbnb.org, an independent not-for-profit organisation dedicated to facilitating temporary stays for people in times of crisis.  

With COVID-19 being the biggest humanitarian crisis that the world is facing today, Airbnb.org’s first project will be to support emergency response efforts around the world and help provide stays for essential workers and volunteers fighting the spread of COVID-19.

The inspiration for Airbnb.org began in 2012 with a single host named Shell who opened up her home to people impacted by Hurricane Sandy. This sparked a movement and marked the beginning of a program that allows hosts on the platform to provide stays for people in times of need,” the company said in a statement.    

Since then, the program has evolved to focus on emergency response and to help provide stays to evacuees, relief workers, refugees and asylum seekers, and most recently, frontline workers fighting the spread of COVID-19.

From Australia to France, more than 100,000 hosts have offered to open up their homes and helped provide accommodations to 75,000 people in times of need. Going forward, Airbnb’s Open Homes and Frontline Stays programs will now be called Airbnb.org.  

“Airbnb.org is a testament to our community’s generosity and the power of an idea that started with one host eight years ago and has transformed into a movement of compassion and hospitality,” said Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb and Chairman of Airbnb.org.  

“Founding and supporting Airbnb.org allows us to double down on our efforts to help communities in need across the world in coordination with our partners, including the IFRC and CORE, to further amplify the generosity of our host community,” Gebbia said. 

Airbnb.org’s initial commitments include USD $2 million to support expanded partnerships with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE).  

Over the next two years, Airbnb.org will commit USD $1 million to cover stays for IFRC staff and volunteers supporting communities worldwide hit by COVID-19 and other humanitarian disasters.  

CORE will utilize Airbnb.org’s USD $1 million contribution to fund stays for frontline workers administering free COVID-19 tests, conducting contact tracing, providing flu shots and coordinating quarantine support resources in ten cities across the U.S. with the opportunity to launch in new cities as hotspots arise.  

When a vaccine becomes available, CORE will also use Airbnb.org funding to house relief workers traveling to vaccine distribution centers. 

“Supporting communities through times of crisis requires collaborative efforts. We value our partnership with Airbnb.org which will support our ongoing work responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and countless other emergencies around the world,” said Jagan Chapagin, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). 

 “Temporary housing provided to IFRC volunteers and staff through this partnership will offer comfort and hospitality as they work tirelessly to support people affected by disasters, Chapagin said.    

“We are incredibly grateful to Airbnb.org for providing places for our team to stay while they are away from home and serving communities that are being affected by COVID-19,” said CORE Co-Founder and CEO Ann Lee.  

“It’s heartening to know that our hardworking team has a safe and comfortable place to rest and recuperate after the hard work they do every single day on the frontlines of fighting this pandemic, Lee said.   

How it works 

Airbnb.org will allow hosts to provide free and discounted stays to people impacted by emergencies, including natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.  

These stays, which provide alternative accommodation and shelter options, are especially helpful to government and nonprofit partners in a year where the COVID-19 pandemic has made housing vulnerable people in traditional congregate shelters extremely challenging. 

Hosts who support Airbnb.org by offering free stays or making recurring donations will receive a special badge on their profile to recognize their generosity and commitment to communities in need.  

To ensure community donations go further towards helping house people in times of crisis, the company pledged 400,000 shares of Airbnb stock to support the organisation’s emergency response, natural disaster response and refugee programs.  

Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nate Blecharczyk are committing USD $6 million to support partners and impacted communities. The company will also continue to provide ongoing operational support for Airbnb.org. 

As a nonprofit, Airbnb.org will scale its impact and fund stays through private donations from individuals and institutions. All funds raised through the foundation will go towards covering the cost of stays for those in need. 



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