This expert note expands on a presentation made by the Lessons for Peace: Afghanistan project in October 2019 to the 5+4+3 Peace Working Group in Kabul. It draws on the author’s personal experience as a World Bank staff member, including his acquaintance with multilateral literature on conflict and conflict resolution. The note describes how and why donors often underperform in conflict-affected countries, and then suggests how some such mistakes can be avoided. This present note takes a global perspective; a forthcoming paper (Roberts et al, November 2020) will focus on Afghanistan. The author draws a great deal on World Bank analysis and experience in this paper, but the opinions expressed, and any errors, are the author’s own.