Archive for the ‘Global Philanthropy’ Category

For better or worse, the field of philanthropy is inundated with reports. My swelling “to-read” pile is the root cause of seemingly intractable clutter in my office.
Amid this cacophony, Advancing Human Rights: The State of Global Foundation Grantmaking warrants our attention. On its part, the International Human Rights Funders Group deserves kudos for culling rich [...]

The EDGE Funders Alliance Just Giving conference in Washington DC, 21-23 May, brought together some 250 donors, activists and allies on the theme of ‘What is to be done? And how do we do it?’ Participants enjoyed a casual yet focused environment to gain a deeper understanding of the current landscape of grassroots and transnational initiatives [...]

Blistering sunlight broils our small group as we gingerly perch around the edges of the raised bed our hosts have set out for us in front of their hut in Godha Village. We’ve come to visit a few of the 100 ultra-poor women in rural Uttar Pradesh recently employed by our local partner, a social-venture [...]

I enjoyed presenting at a great session, “Small Grants, Big Difference,” during last week’s Council on Foundations Annual Conference with Daniel Tillias of Pax Christi Sakala in Haiti; Kate Ahern of the Case Foundation; and Monica LaBiche Brown of Water for People. It was great that 75 or more people came to our session because [...]

Having moved from London to New York just two weeks earlier, I walked into the Council on Foundatons’ day-long global preconference session with trepidation; would I remember what my organization did? Would the other attendees groan when they realised I was a fundraiser? Would they understand my funny English?
The day launched into a discussion on [...]

It was seemingly straightforward. We had provided a small grant to an income-generating project in Malawi. It was to a youthful and energetic group that wanted to start a chicken project, and sell the eggs and the offspring to generate revenue to support their work.
But in their first report, the group explained to us that [...]

I recently received a call from a researcher on a new project. As I understood it, a prominent U.S. foundation had asked them to study how domestic donors deal with gender issues. They were to identify funders with a specific commitment to the gender lens in their funding priorities, and then document how these funders [...]

Over the past several years, no strategy for change has captured the imagination of philanthropy more than impact investing. In the United States and even more so in emerging markets, people and institutions with financial means are deploying those resources in new and sometimes innovative ways. Right or wrong, some of the newer players are [...]

In the early 1990s, I spent a year living and working in Uganda. One day I was with some friends driving back from a trip to one of the beautiful game parks there. It was late afternoon and not long before darkness would set in. We decided to pitch our tents by the side of [...]

Most Latin American countries continue with high GDP growth rates amid the global financial crisis. While the nonprofit sector in these countries is among the smallest in the world, these nations are on the cusp of significant philanthropic transformation. This is due, in part, to a rising middle class, technology connecting more citizens and Next [...]

One year on from last summer’s riots, the Olympics present an important opportunity to harness the potential of sport for good. Sport can be a powerful tool for improving social outcomes: promoting good physical and mental health, reducing crime and bringing communities together. Yet, while inspiring a generation of young people to take up sport [...]

Feeling stagnant? Overwhelmed with today’s societal problems? Concerned we’re not making progress and reaching our full potential? Well, please find solace in knowing that global philanthropy is growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, we’re giving birth to a new and improved philanthropy that will be a leading and lagging indicator of our social, human, [...]

Saturday was wonderful preconference kick-off to what will undoubtedly be another great Council on Foundations event. Collaboration, common agendas, and community engagement were key themes for both the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) and Global Grantmakers. Each group delivered thought-provoking, inspiring programming - but unfortunately I was forced to choose between sessions.  Similar to [...]

During the second panel I attended, I really liked the New Field Foundation’s approach to grantmaking and their utilization of local advisers. It is very sensitive to every aspect of their work and the impact it has on all stakeholders. Bravo.
Interestingly, one of the other grantmakers on the panel relied on volunteer local advisers and [...]

I attended a great panel this morning. It was called “The Future of Philanthropy and Development in the Pursuit of the Human Well-Being: An Update on the Bellagio Initiative.” The presenters were Asif Saleh, director of the BRAC Centre; Fabrice Serfati, managing director and CFO of IGNIA; Neelam Makhijani, chief executive of Resource Alliance; and Pesh [...]

Don’t get me wrong: I love Madonna. Really, I do. But for a while there, anytime I searched the topic of global philanthropy, the only news that surfaced focused on Madonna and her effort to build a number of schools in Malawi. I’m not saying it’s not important or that she’s not doing great work, [...]

In mid-March, following the news that Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a warlord from the DRC, had been convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), activists lauded the long-awaited verdict, calling on the ICC and the Congolese government to implement the arrest warrants of others who are also suspected of serious war crimes committed [...]

There’s an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” That’s true in life and true in philanthropy.
Grantmakers are dedicated to working with nonprofits and community organizations to address the toughest challenges. There’s no doubt that the past several years have required [...]

Did you know illnesses resulting from water contamination are the leading cause of human sickness and death worldwide? In just the past decade, more children have died due to a lack of access to safe drinking water than all the people who have died in battle since World War II.
Even when safe drinking water is [...]

I landed in Cairo earlier today a few hours ago expecting to see significant changes. In many ways everything has changed yet on the drive from the airport to the hotel in Zamalek to across the Nile, Cairo is still the same. The wonderful energy, the crazy traffic with cars moving in [...]

The International Youth Foundation recently released a report that looks at the growing education and social challenges facing youth around the world. Commissioned by Microsoft, it underlines the emergence of an worldwide opportunity divide among young people.
At a time when we have 1.2 billion young people—the most at any point in history—there’s an urgent need to provide [...]

At the Council on Foundations Global Grantmaking Institute (GGI), participants grappled with the fact that wicked problems do not have single-sourced solutions, nor is there a clearly demarcated path leading to success in overcoming these problems. Our esteemed faculty gently but ever so consistently prodded us to accept that despite our best intentions as grantmakers, [...]

A few years ago, a Guatemalan organization called the Women’s Association for the Development of Sacatepéquez (AFEDES), an International Development Exchange (IDEX) grant partner since 2005, discovered something troubling: Its programs were not making much of an impact.
Comprised of 31 women’s groups in Guatemala with nearly 1,000 members, AFEDES was founded by a group [...]

At the Council on Foundations’ Global Grantmaking Institute (GGI) this week, participants are examining the essentials in the effective global grantmaker’s toolkit: our hearts, minds, stomachs, and ears.
First, let’s talk about the hearts and minds. Reflecting on the seeds of America’s fight for independence from England, John Adams wrote that the Revolution was born in [...]

Roughly 80 percent of the coastal mangroves around the coastal Colombian town of Tumaco have been lost through deforestation, urban development, and contamination from frequent oil spills. The area is a hub for industrial storage and transportation of petroleum, and during most of the last 15 years, the remaining mangroves were preferred hideaways for armed [...]

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We hear that phrase and understand that the most difficult tasks are accomplished one step at a time, with resolve and long-term dedication. And I would add, with the help of each other.
At Dow, we see our 29-year partnership with Habitat for Humanity as [...]

Every year, International Corporate Philanthropy Day is observed on the last Monday in February to “raise awareness of corporate-community partnerships and inspire businesses around the world to engage further.” But did you know that the three most important words in the previous sentence are corporate-community partnerships?
Cisco has a nearly 30-year history of making philanthropic contributions. [...]

I’m just back from an incredible visit to the Angkor Temple complex in Cambodia. It’s an area I’ve wanted to visit for some time, and I also have the added benefit of being able to see American Express philanthropic dollars at work there.
Historic preservation is one of our company’s long-standing funding areas. It isn’t hard [...]

It’s International Corporate Philanthropy Day, when the business community celebrates achievements in philanthropy and corporate community partnerships. At General Mills, we’re celebrating by releasing the results of our global volunteer survey, which shows that our employees, no matter where they work around the world, are deeply committed to improving the lives of our neighbors in [...]

I used to question the value of conferences. They are expensive when you add up the flights, hotels, meals – Isn’t that money better spent on programmatic work that directly serves our grantees? As foundations we rightly and continually scrutinize our administrative expenses. We owe that to our donors and grantees.
Over [...]

The Council’s Family Philanthropy Conference is an opportunity for international philanthropists to meet and exchange experiences with peers from the U.S. and other countries. It is a place to learn with other participants representing other foundations and specialists in the field of philanthropy and family dynamics. It is a chance to get familiar with what’s new [...]

Last month, the Rockefeller Foundation, in partnership with Resource Alliance and the Institute for Development Studies, convened a major summit in Bellagio, Italy, on the future of philanthropy and development in the pursuit of well-being. The summit-the culmination of a process involving regional consultations around the globe, the commissioning of papers on relevant topics, and [...]

The Council on Foundations surveyed some of its leading members active in the global grantmaking sphere to learn what they see on the horizon. Here are their top 10 predictions for 2012:
1. Despite worldwide economic challenges, global philanthropy will continue its remarkable growth. While the pace of growth will slow somewhat among Organisation for Economic [...]

The conservation of ecosystems is one of the most compelling environmental challenges of the 21st century.
Vital to human well-being, ecosystems and their biodiversity provide food and water; regulate floods, drought, and disease; and support soil formation and pollination. They also have intangible value as places of spiritual significance. All these are vital services, essential to [...]

At this week’s Global Grantmaking Institute, much of our discussion has focused on the role of communities in fostering lasting systemic change. Engaging community actors who work closely with vulnerable populations is a key factor. Focusing on community-based organizations (CBOs) challenges the typical development paradigm of imported solutions. Investing in their strengths, their existing resources, [...]

As a relative newcomer to global grantmaking, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend the Global Grantmaking Institute this week to strengthen my understanding of the field. Attending the institute has not only provided me with useful background knowledge, however. It’s also given me the opportunity to reflect on the nature of global [...]

Emergencies are bound to happen. While there have been dramatic improvements in disaster preparedness and increased attention to mitigation, the outcomes of natural or man-made disasters are mostly unpredictable. In recent years we have seen a slew of catastrophes take the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world: from the tsunami in [...]

You might already suspect from your Facebook or LinkedIn profiles that the world is getting smaller. It’s true. The folks on the far sides of the Earth are practically down the block in terms of human connections. A recent study showed that there are only 4.74 degrees of separation between every person on the planet. [...]

In 2008, at the age of 17, I traveled with a group of other teens to Zambia and South Africa on a philanthropy-oriented trip organized by YouthGive. We went to look at how microfinance, a method of lending small amounts of money to people so they can start a livelihood for themselves, could help address [...]

While the Gates Foundation has raised the bar for global philanthropy, today’s youth will revolutionize global giving in the coming decades.
Youth under 21, so-called digital natives, were born into the era of globalization in which communication technologies have narrowed the distinction between local and global. New media has increased awareness of global conflicts such as [...]

In America, the debate lumbers on about the best way to coordinate the philanthropic sector and the U.S. government. Meanwhile, one post-conflict West African country has jumped right in — the Liberia Philanthropy Secretariat is the fruit of collaboration between President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and private foundations. It is the world’s only national government office dedicated [...]

Four years ago, when I was a philanthropic adviser at a private bank, I spoke to The New York Times for an article on global giving. In my work with wealthy families in the United States and around the world, I was seeing a growing trend of cross-border giving. Part of this was related to [...]

Growing up in a family of nine in the suburbs of America’s Heartland — Ohio — actually provided good training in strategic philanthropy and kept me rooted in cost efficiency as an adult. Now running a dynamic family foundation on a tiny budget, I am living the lessons of middle-class family budgeting. We leverage our [...]

The Council on Foundations’ Corporate Philanthropy 2012 project calls for a “reinvention” of corporate philanthropy, in part through a core group of leaders/practitioners who are willing to “guide, adopt, test, and validate new management approaches.”
So often our ability to transform established approaches requires a convergence of opportunity and vision.
At the Medtronic Foundation, we’re experiencing this [...]

We try to activate philanthropy where it is needed most in the world. For those of us who are global-minded, we might think about a starving child or a refugee camp. For those of us who are local-minded in the United States, we might wonder about a soup kitchen or a homeless person.
Of course we know [...]

On Monday evening, September 19, at the Council’s Fall Conference for Community Foundations, a special screening is planned of a documentary film,  “Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think.” The film is based on a Gallup poll of Muslim women and men in more than 30 countries across the globe. They were asked their [...]

With the recent 104th anniversary of UPS (Aug. 28), I’ve been thinking about our founder, Jim Casey.  Jim taught us a lot.  His speeches and writings in the 1930s, 40s and 50s would make a best-selling business book if repackaged today.  Thomas Friedman…  Jim Collins…  Gary Hammel… all the other business gurus of today – Jim [...]

Since China’s Deng Xiaoping embraced the Open Door Policy in 1978, the Chinese economy has witnessed astonishingly rapid growth, leapfrogging Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy. Along with a vertical increase in the number of billionaires (China trails only the United States now), the number of Chinese private foundations has increased from 202 in [...]

Within the English language, the phrase ‘global philanthropy’ has come into widespread use over the past decade – the phrase certainly peppers the ever-expanding literature produced by Alliance. In the US, where once philanthropic interests were concerned with ‘international issues’, many now claim ‘global issues’ as their bailiwick. Thus we have the Global Philanthropy Forum, [...]

The Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group (AGAG) recently released the summary report “Making the Right Fit:  Supporting NGOs in Africa Using Direct and Indirect Funding.” In it, African NGOs offer feedback about the benefits of receiving funds directly from foundations versus through intermediary organizations.
One benefit is the two-way learning opportunities. “Foundations should not underestimate the importance [...]

With the recent controversies over Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea” and the Central Asia Institute, along with Madonna’s failed girls’ school in Malawi, people are questioning why charities fail and what we can do to ensure that philanthropy achieves the best possible results. Geneva Global, a leading international philanthropic consulting firm, has created “Ten [...]

Philanthropy, much as with other things today, has stepped on the accelerator in terms of becoming a global phenomenon. The amount of charitable donations going overseas and to US-based international programs has doubled since 2003, according to the Foundation Center. The rise of philanthropy among the world’s wealthiest in the most recent Forbes survey of [...]

Interest in global philanthropy is on the rise and many individuals, corporations, foundations and nonprofits are looking at the opportunities for developing their presence in China. In the “Philanthropy in China” session at the Council on Foundation’s annual conference in Philadelphia, we looked at the growth of grassroots groups and explored some of the challenges [...]

In a panel on looking at foundation roles over the long run, Gerry Salole of the European Foundation Centre warned of what many philanthropists innately assume. “The real problem,” he said, “is that the solutions are not as simple as people like to think they are…the rhetoric from social engineers is unsatisfying…things are measured in [...]

Most U.S.-based foundations have never made a grant beyond the borders of the United States. IRS regulations, selecting good partners, and monitoring and evaluation may all seem challenging. But it’s actually quite feasible, and leads to impressive results. Four experienced foundations are coming together for a “Common Spaces” session on April 11 at the Council [...]

Nearly 900 million people (14 percent of the world’s population) do not have access to safe drinking water. And more than 2.5 billion people (38 percent of the world’s population) live without basic sanitation. Every year more than 3.4 million people worldwide die from diseases related to the lack of access to safe drinking water, [...]

Everyone in philanthropy likes to talk about giving to your community. For some family philanthropists at the Council’s Family Philanthropy Conference, the definition of community expands globally.

The devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake hit university students and professors in a particular way since most colleges begin courses at 5 p.m. Approximately 6,000 college students and 200 professors died that day. In a context where more than half of the population does not know how to read, this impact is particularly severe. [...]

Recently, a working group of more than 70 American charities, foundations and legal experts ended a disappointing seven-year dialogue with the Department of Treasury over the utility of its Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines for U.S.-based Charities. At the end of the day, the agency missed an opportunity to clarify a set of misleading guidelines that are [...]

The chatter over the past couple of years was nothing new. The Great Recession would hit international grantmaking by U.S. foundations especially hard. Before that it was post-9/11 regulations on overseas giving that would cause lasting harm.

Welcome to RE: Philanthropy! In this blog, guest and Council bloggers share ideas and insights on the most pressing issues in philanthropy. If you want to contribute, please contact

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Council on Foundations.


Darren Sandow
Mayur Patel
Rene Cabral-Daniels
Philip L. Cochran
R. Christine Hershey
Courtney Spalding-Mayer
Matt Charles
Steven Lawrence
Ralph Fuccillo
Michael Durnil
Dan Rader
Brenda Campers
Katherine Lorenz
Joop Rubens
Erin Rowley
Daniela Fainberg
Rita L. Soronen
Jeff Yost
Sidney Hargro
Anne Sekula
Claudia Juech
Priscilla Enriquez
Marilyn Gelber
Carl Little
Nancy Berglass
Michigan Rural Network
Caitlin Walker
Larry Ottinger
Jeff Stanger
Javier Alberto Soto
Kevin Murphy
Meredith Jones
Diane Melley
Mary McClymont
Anthony Tansimore
Matthew Nelson
Brooke Ramsey
Thomas H. Davis Jr.
Josephine Sinclair
Michelle Bermudez
MLea Davis
Timothy P. Silard
Sofia Rasmussen
John Porter
Carolyn Torgersen
Dori Kreiger
Heather Bennett
Ellen Carter
Bo Miller
John Colgan