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, and philanthropic development. We should not only be encouraged by these positive trends, but we should take copious notes because soon our students will be the teachers.
The promise of global philanthropy was the center of conversation during the Monday afternoon session, New Wealth, New Philanthropy: Dynamism in BRIC Countries. Natural disasters, new wealth, promising tax legislation, and emerging democracies are just a few of many factors propelling these countries from philanthropic novices to sophisticated social investment leaders.
Leona Forman (Brazil), Olga Shchedrina (Russia), Vidya Shah (India), and Tao Ze (China) were the dream team of philanthropic leaders who sat down with Cynthia Steele to discuss trends, surprises, and their aspirations. Below are a few fast facts that I hope will renew your hope for our world and our work:
· Brazil: Although Brazil still faces some compelling social problems, they are now the 6th largest economy and 11th in world with the number of millionaires. Interestingly enough, many of these new donors are young, female, and identify as social investors, not philanthropists. Early evidence of Brazil cross-border donations to Africa suggests that in the not too distance future, the country will join a new class of international donor countries.
· India: India’s cultural and religious foundations have inspired its philanthropy for centuries. But today, India is moving from a “small but beautiful Ghandi-inspired philanthropy” to programs that are scalable and seed social enterprises. As India’s GDP grows, so too will its philanthropic investments.
· China: Catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis—as well as new wealth—have propelled China to the philanthropic forefront. Lack of transparency and accountability have historically been the headlines, but today groups like the China Foundation Center have emerged to close these and other gaps. They are eager to professionalize the field and become more transparent. China will not become more open overnight, but the foundation has developed a transparency index as a measure of NGO effectiveness.
This is merely a contextual snapshot of what is emerging in BRIC markets and how barriers are being broken in dynamic new ways. I’m excited for our colleagues and applaud their success.
Nicole Robinson is vice president of the Krafts Food Foundation