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 the top philanthropists now includes individuals from India (Azim Premji), Mexico (Carlos Slim), China (Li Ka-shing), Germany (Dietmar Hopp and Klaus Tschira), and Switzerland (Steven Schmidheiny). This is yet another example of the global nature of philanthropy now.
It is no coincidence that the rise of global philanthropy mirrors the growth of the millennial generation. Millennials are more connected, cognizant, and committed to tackling society’s ongoing challenges of a global scope than any generation before them. Technology and social media certainly facilitates the increase in connectedness and knowledge – and millennials have grown up in an age where the Internet has always existed. Now there are the tools to not only know what’s going on but know who else is passionate about global issues of the environment, poverty, global health, and education at a speed and on a scale that wasn’t previously achievable. The knowledge and connections spanning the globe – through study abroad trips in college, volunteering for a short-term stint in a developing country, or backpacking the world in a gap year, have led to higher levels of knowledge about the world, but more importantly a higher commitment to solve challenges in today’s world. Philanthropy increasingly reflects this changing worldview as well, with more and more young people volunteering and making charitable donations.
Global philanthropy is no longer only writing a check or making a grant and sitting back to wait for the results–it is becoming much more involved than that. Global philanthropy is drawing from the best of the sectors, and collaborating to find solutions. Social stock markets, social impact bonds, and other hybrid solutions drawing from each of the three sectors demonstrate the merging, melding, and blurring of the business, government and nonprofit sectors. It isn’t so much about which sector or industry is responsible for solutions anymore, it is recognizing that any one cannot achieve success alone, and that it requires networks of committed citizens across the sectors to work together to develop solutions. Bridging the gaps and increasing philanthropy’s impact by breaking down traditional barriers of class, race, sector, and wealth are a work in progress, as are the development of new forms of philanthropy. Each country and culture affects philanthropy, and we all have much to learn from one another as we form our respective ethos of philanthropy.
The Council on Foundations is committed to developing the next generation of philanthropic leaders and preparing them to take on positions of increasing leadership in the philanthropic sector. Whether through the Career Pathways program, the Next Generation Task Force, or through publications like Trading Power, the Council recognizes and values the development of new leadership in the philanthropic sector. Working with the Council are groups including 21/64, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, Resource Generation, and others are working together with under-40 philanthropic leaders around the world to make a difference. We are also working alongside groups in Brazil, Mexico, and China as they develop the next generation of philanthropic leaders in their respective country. Global philanthropy has tremendous potential for social change in the coming years, as philanthropy raises new leaders to increase collaboration across philanthropy, across borders, and across sectors.
The philanthropic sector, at a young 100 years old, stands to grow tremendously in the second 100 years through new ways of communication, collaboration, and cooperation. By building trust, sharing knowledge, developing relationships, and strengthening the collective vision toward shared goals for a better society tomorrow, together this generation can extend philanthropy’s impact in pursuit of a better future, for all of us.
Andrew Ho is manager of global philanthropy for the Council on Foundations. This post first appeared on the blog Social Citizens.