Giving Compass’ Take:
• The Philanthropic Initiative provides a guide for donors who want to make a global impact in the areas of safe water, refugee response, and women and girls.
• How can this advice be incorporated into your giving strategy? What additional information do you need before diving in?
• Learn how risk avoidance hampers global giving.
There is an improved understanding of the interrelated nature of global social, economic, and environmental issues, and cross-border philanthropy has increased in response. International giving from US foundations increased 29 percent between 2011 and 2015, and it continues to rise. Recognizing that issues that cross national borders are among the most critical issues of our time, funders are often giving both in their local communities and abroad. They recognize that “global giving” doesn’t mean “out there, not here”, but that giving, wherever it may occur, connects the internal with the external, the local with the global. A 2017 study conducted by the Council on Foundations and Foundation Center found that grant dollars for international giving from large US-based community foundations had risen from $103 million in 2011 to $223 million in 2014. Philanthropy is rising in countries outside of the US as well. Institutional philanthropy and the number of foundations are increasing in every region of the world, alongside a steady rise in individual and community-based philanthropy worldwide. While data on the philanthropic sector in countries outside of North America and Europe are scarce, a recent study identified a total of 260,358 foundations in 38 countries, representing assets that exceed $1.5 trillion.
Companies have also increased their global presence and have expanded their philanthropy. Corporate giving rose by eight percent in 2017 to $20.77 billion. This rise is tied to an increased focus on developing philanthropic strategies that encompass mission, values, goals, and interests of employees. Companies also feel an increased responsibility to be good global citizens in addition to having strong financial returns. Through thoughtful philanthropic strategies, companies are improving their reputations and brands while also attracting and retaining employees who find more satisfaction knowing their companies are giving back to the communities around the world where they operate.
International funders report that their giving is accomplishing more than what might be possible if they gave only in the US. They see evidence that their philanthropy is changing lives. By giving across borders, they are alleviating extreme poverty, rebuilding after disasters, championing human rights, promoting global health, and supporting humanitarian responses. People are also realizing that problems affecting far-off communities may be faced by their own neighbors at home. For example, more than 844 million people globally lack access to safe drinking water, and while the problem is most acute in developing countries, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan helped to expose the fact that people in over 1,000 rural towns across the US lack access to safe, clean water.
Understanding the interconnected factors at play in addressing critical global issues can help funders identify effective philanthropic approaches at home and abroad, and funders can learn by sharing both successes and failures in addressing complex challenges. Whether giving locally or globally, funders want to have an impact and to know their philanthropy is making a meaningful difference. Some common questions that funders of all types and sizes often ask when trying to increase the impact of their philanthropy include:
- How can we give effectively and responsibly in cultures and geographies that are not our own?
- How can our philanthropy or foundation make a difference on such a huge issue?
- What is the best entry point or strategy to tackle an issue?
- How are other funders approaching this issue and what are the opportunities to collaborate?
- What are the most effective ways to work with grantees as true partners?
- How can we leverage our philanthropic resources further to catalyze significant and sustainable change?
There are a variety of ways funders can work to answer these questions, but knowing where to begin is not always easy. Directing philanthropic resources in meaningful ways requires a strategic approach, which often begins with determining one or more issues, populations, or geographies on which to focus one’s giving. Focusing philanthropic efforts can be both exciting and challenging, and the next step of becoming educated can feel downright daunting. This is especially true when giving across borders, since many issues are interconnected and affect multiple communities and populations in countries around the world. Learning about such issues – why they might exist in the first place, who or what they affect, who is trying to address them and how – can be challenging to small and large funders alike.
With this report, The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) set out to share knowledge and to equip donors of all types and sizes, from the private and corporate sectors, to determine how they might use philanthropy to address three issue areas currently affecting millions of people around the world:
- Increasing access to clean, safe water
- Addressing the global refugee response crisis
- Improving conditions for women and girls
See the full article about global giving at The Philanthropic Initiative.
The world has quickly become connected in ways never experienced before. Intercontinental travel is readily available; technology keeps us constantly connected to friends, loved ones, and acquaintances; and the media exposes us daily to news from around the world. People increasingly visit parts of the world they previously could not have imagined seeing, introducing them firsthand to cultures and communities in other places, as well as to the day-to-day challenges faced in every part of the world.