The Resource Alliance Philanthropy blog
The mission of the Resource Alliance is to be the global network for fundraising, resource mobilisation and philanthropy. We aim to be at the forefront of debate, discussion and the latest research on current and future trends in philanthropy.
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Bridging philanthropy & development: June Forum Agenda
Published: 26 June 2012
Following last week’s Rio + 20 conference on sustainable development, the post-2015 agenda is very much at the centre of the international stage. So our meeting in Bellagio comes at a great time. Bringing together a small group of philanthropists and development actors from across Asia and Africa, we will be exploring how these two groups can work together to achieve sustainable change.
The agenda we’ve put together covers the broader issues affecting sustainable development and philanthropy as well as some more specific questions relating to collaboration, innovation and risk.
We’ll begin by introducing some of the key questions which will provide context to the discussions throughout the rest of the forum and inviting the participants to share their own experiences on the types of issues they focus on, how we might place more emphasis on investing in organisations rather than individual projects in the future and what philanthropy looks like in an interdependent world, where many development issues are borderless.
We’ll then move on to look at examples where collaboration between philanthropists and development entities has worked well and reflect on why these examples succeeded. We’ll also look at what we can learn from examples that didn’t work so well. By the end of these discussions we aim to develop a list of factors that influence the success of collaborations.
During the first afternoon, we also have a debate planned to address the question of who is driving the development agenda. We aim to provoke a lively discussion on who is setting the agenda, the relevance of such an agenda for philanthropists and whether we need a global case for support for development. Social innovation systems will also be examined, considering what they might look like and how such systems could be scaled.
The first day will end with a short presentation on the critical issues in risk and philanthropy. It will highlightsome of the key findings from the paper on risk and philanthropy we commissioned following the Bellagio Summit, which is published today.
The second day will take an in depth look at the critical issues in risk and philanthropy, picking up on some of the issues emerging from the report. We’ll be encouraging the group to come up with recommendations on reducing operational and impact risks. By the end of the forum, we hope to have a more concrete idea about what it would take to support people so that they can learn from the successes and failures of others and scale up the fundamental idea of our forum to give others the same experience.
Observations on Bridging Philanthropy and Development in Asia
Published: 20 June 2012
Next up in our series of guest posts we hear from Usha Menon, Executive Chairman of Usha Menon Management Consultancy, about the changes she believes could bridge philanthropy and development to create a thriving world for us and future generations:
This illustration is at the heart of my reflections for this blog, as I prepare for the forum to be held next week at the Bellagio Centre on Bridging Philanthropy and Development in Asia and Africa.
For Asian development practitioner and philanthropists living in very interesting times, some even labelling it the Asian century, I believe we have a responsibility to be the change we want to see in this world. Here are some of the changes that I believe could bridge philanthropy and development:
Participation: One that genuinely empowers the community, rather than as a tool for establishing power relationships between the donor and the charity or development agency. Despite the attempts and experimentation with bringing about collaboration between donors and implementing agencies, my observation in that in most cases it’s merely an attempt to integrate indigenous views into pre-determined positions of the donor or even the development intermediary, without much say from the impacted community.
Asian philanthropists and development practitioners have a great opportunity to put authentic empowerment into practise. The profile of an Asian philanthropist is very different from that of their western counterparts and leadership within funding agencies.
Bain & Company in their India Philanthropy Report 2012 reports that of the 400 high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs*) and emerging HNWIs in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune surveyed:
- More than 70% of the donors have less than three years of philanthropic experience. Majority were 40 years old or younger
- Among families who participate in philanthropy, 76% have younger relatives who have assumed an active role in choosing charities, while 69% say young members shape or spearhead the family’s charitable mission
- Private foundations are beginning to play a major role in Philanthropy.
Process Innovation: Over the past few decades the dependence on ‘foreign aid’ has developed a whole generation of Asian development practitioners who are conditioned by the linear thinking and reporting requirements of their western funders. Despite these processes, the grant makers are often unable to receive the quality and quantity of written information that they seek of their grantees. At the same time, the application and reporting requirements have made these funding impractical for many grassroots organizations or the time and effort expended to get a grant is at times not proportionate to the size of the grant. Donor reporting requirements driven by matrixes and frameworks, do not consider stories from the ground as sophisticated theory, thus losing out on the possibility of hearing the real voices.
Asian philanthropists and development practitioners have a tremendous opportunity to close this gap by looking innovatively at the processes needed for engagement, tracking and celebrating the impact with the community. Philanthropists have an opportunity to foster open, empowering, and flexible relationships with their grantees that could leverage on technological advancements in communications while at the same time build on our rich tradition of oral storytelling.
The profile and motivations of the Asian philanthropists differ in many ways from the donors that development practitioners are used to dealing with, in the past. UBS-INSEAD Study of Family Philanthropy in Asia that covered over 200 surveys and over a hundred personal interviews with wealthy Asian families from 10 Asia Pacific countries, found the following motivations of Asian philanthropists:
- 42% of respondents said their major reason to engage philanthropy is to make sure they ensure the continuity of their family values and to create a lasting legacy for future generations.
- They tend to donate to their own countries, with roughly 70% of donations on average in 2010 given to national causes. However the younger philanthropists seemed more open to national and international causes.
- 36% of donations went into education, while poverty alleviation accounted for 10% and healthcare for 9%. However younger philanthropists seemed more open to sectors such as the arts, civil rights and the environment
- Family business remains an important source of funds with 22% of the families studied reporting company profits as providing funding for their philanthropy and prefer maintaining operational control, rather than working collaboratively or as grant-making entitie
- 36% of survey respondents ranked Social Entrepreneurship as the most important trend that will affect philanthropy in Asia, with a growing interest among family philanthropies in the sustainable and transformative potential of social ventures with earned income strategies.
Usha Menon is Executive Chairman of Usha Menon Management Consultancy, an international training and consultancy service for the non-profit sector across Asia, specialising in strategic management, inspirational leadership development and mission driven fundraising. Usha is a keen observer and an active global participant in the non-profit sector for the past 25 years.
Risk a very personal perspective
Published: 18 June 2012
Ahead of our bridging philanthropy and development forum next week, Adrian Sargeant, Professor of Nonprofit Marketing at Bristol Business School, tells us why philanthropy needs to become more accepting of risk - and why trust is so important:
'One of the key conclusions from the last Bellagio Summit was the philanthropy needs to become more accepting of risk. Governments, it was argued, are ill placed to take risk because of the discipline imposed by elections and/or the impact that a failure might have on the careers of officials deemed to have ‘squandered’ public resources. Equally, while many new forms of social enterprise can and do take risk, they frequently can’t take the kind of risks necessary to achieve systemic change because of the need to secure some form of financial return. Philanthropy, by contrast, can assume a greater degree of risk, engaging in projects that offer the potential to transform an entire development ecosystem.
Unfortunately, they appear not to and the evidence that philanthropists are risk averse is not just anecdotal. A Bank of America study of philanthropy (2010) tells us that virtually no high value philanthropists want to take substantive risks with their philanthropic assets (a mere 3.8%). To compound the issue it seems that philanthropists are more risk averse with their philanthropic assets than they are with their personal financial assets. Some 26% are not willing to take any risks with their philanthropic assets, compared with only 10% who take a similar view of their other financial investments.
So why should this be? There are a multiplicity of possible motives for supporting philanthropic initiatives, but one notable motive in this context is what the economist Andreoni refers to as the ‘warm glow’ that derives from giving. Individuals, quite understandably, want to feel good about their philanthropy and thus select projects that will best deliver this feeling of self-worth. As human beings we are naturally drawn to short term certainty and rather than convince us otherwise, many in our nonprofit community have been beavering away, actively encouraging this perspective. Instead of being honest with people about the work we should be doing, we’ve focused instead on projects that offer our supporters the greatest prospect of feeling good, neglecting the real interests of the communities we serve. As a Professor of Fundraising I read many appeals, but I can’t recall the last one that opened with the glorious headline – we’d like you support this because it might just solve a long term problem, but the chances of it working are slim.
The desire to feel good may also play a role in the context of small business or family foundations, where the decision making unit is small and individual passions predominate. It offers less insight though into the behaviour of larger and multi-national foundations. These organisations too, can be risk averse. There are a variety of reasons why this might be the case ranging from the inadequate training or support of key personnel, to the continuation of a culture which fails to regard occasional failure as an essential precursor to successful innovation. From my personal perspective however, I am struck by the current fervour within the sector to adopt ever more of a commercial approach to grantmaking. Impact evaluation and assessments are now the order of the day, with a concomitant rise in the use of often meaningless metrics that are unaligned with genuine community need and/or the drivers of long term prosperity and wellbeing. We seem to have become obsessed with the imposition of ever greater management controls, many of which stifle innovation and deplete a critical force at the very core of our sector’s existence. In short we’ve forgotten trust; how to trust, the different kinds of trust, and why trust is so important.'
Philanthropy as Development
Published: 14 June 2012
Rob Garris, Managing Director for Bellagio Programs at the Rockefeller Foundation, tells us more about the upcoming forum and introduces some of the main topics that will be discussed in Bellagio later this month:
'Last November at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Awkasi Aidoo of Trust Africa encouraged us not to think about doing philanthropy for development, but instead to think of “philanthropy as development.” His comment carried a lot of meaning: philanthropy should be embedded in emerging economies and build on local traditions of giving and mutuality so that new wealth is shared, and shared wisely. Philanthropy should seek to solve underlying causes of poverty. Philanthropy should, as John D. Rockefeller suggested in 1913, improve human well-being around the world.
The diverse participants from philanthropy and development at last year’s summit shared broad goals and values, but have different ways of working and different understandings, sometimes, of the worlds in which we work. We are excited to partner with Resource Alliance to continue this conversation, again at the Bellagio Center, just a few weeks from now.
Last year, we asked an experienced group how to improve human well-being through collaboration and cross-learning between philanthropy and development. This year we have invited a group of new philanthropists, primarily from Africa and Asia, to work through some of the themes that emerged last year from the perspective of their own work. On the table for discussion: how to balance risk and opportunity to maximize results; how to build trust with partners;, and how to spot and build on community-based innovations? I also expect we’ll generate new questions and hopefully offer a few answers, too.
We hope that our guests will teach and learn from each other, and sharpen our thinking on these issues. We’ll share with you here and on Twitter what we learn as the discussions unfold. Stay tuned!'
Introducing bridging philanthropy and development
Posted: 11 June 2012
Working with the Rockefeller Foundation, the Resource Alliance is hosting a forum to convene new philanthropists from Asia and Africa and development practitioners.
The forum takes place at the Bellagio Center in Italy from 26-29 June 2012, and will explore how development issues in these regions can influence and engage philanthropists as well as systemic factors that can create opportunities and risks for philanthropists.
Neelam Makhijani, Chief Executive at the Resource Alliance, tells us more about the event -- and how you can participate, in person or online.