The families I’ve spoken to at the conference support diverse projects overseas: from children and women to environmental issues. But many jump from project to project without clear long-term goals—for example, supporting initiatives around clean water in Bangladesh to micro-finance in Uganda. The financial support ranges from a $50 gift to buy a stove to a $100,000 grant for endowing a school.
A majority of the families do support U.S. based 501(c)(3) organizations that are doing work overseas. Some are using intermediaries to implement particular projects while others are running their own programs in specific countries. For instance, one family hired two local leaders to implement a micro-loan project in Haiti. But many families are just lurking on the periphery—still collecting information and unclear where to start.
Families venturing into international philanthropy have few and limited resources to turn to. There is only one website, USIG, and several handbooks that support families that want to fund projects overseas. And at this conference, there is only one session that addresses this topic.
As interest in global philanthropy increases, the field needs to be proactive and empower donors with useful information. If we want to encourage more strategic and efficient forms of giving, then one of my takeaways from this conference is a need for more resources. Resources can take the form of case studies, stories, research and most important, a safe space where families can connect with others doing similar work or using similar approaches.
Dien Yuen is director of Philanthropy at Give2Asia.