Today, Council on Foundations president and CEO Vikki Spruill is in New York City to talk with the board of Realdania about trends in American philanthropy and how we can leverage transatlantic partnerships in the field. Today’s meeting complements the Council’s existing efforts, such as co-founding the Global Philanthropy Leadership Initiative (GPLI) with Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS) and the European Foundation Centre (EFC).
American philanthropy is more involved than ever in international aid and development, and US international charitable giving has overtaken the official foreign assistance budget (PDF link). Philanthropy is more global than ever. For this reason, the Council is eager to find ways to make cross-border giving easier and more effective. International funders have to contend with inconsistent legal and tax frameworks across countries, and they must find ways to further cooperate with multilateral institutions.
The GPLI has already led to concrete efforts, including global initiatives to support sustainable cities and to promote civil society in transitioning countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Efforts are also underway to develop an index of cross-border giving which would rank countries on their openness to receiving international funds.
Of course, as the philanthropic field takes on a larger role in international development, it is imperative that we promote transparency and accountability. The Council worked with the EFC to develop four principles that should govern international giving. Accordingly, foundations involved in cross border grantmaking should:
1. Uphold their core mission in a manner that is consistent with the wishes of your benefactors, donors, or corporation;
2. Serve the public good as defined by national laws and international conventions in their own country and the recipient country;
3. Engage and inform their stakeholders with respect to their intentions and decision-making processes, and provide a mechanism for input and feedback from those affected; and
4. Assure positive impact through their grantmaking and operating activities with respect to the people and communities affected by their interventions.
Today’s meeting, and others like it, serves to build upon these existing structures of international cooperation and sustains the dialog between foundations the world over.
Andrew Ho is manager for global philanthropy at the Council on Foundations. Follow him on Twitter at @andyho.