The Four Best International Practices in Philanthropy

Philanthropic endeavours have been continuing their upward trend. As mentioned on, not only the existing big players such as Chan Zuckerberg, Bill and Melinda Gates, Bloomberg Philanthropies continue to invest more in charity giving, but over 170 million new billionaires have pledged for philanthropic contributions in the recent times.

Of late, many philanthropic organizations have observed the lack of strategic planning in the traditional philanthropic planning method. It constrains the depth and sustainability of the intended social impact. To counter this problem, a lot of philanthropic entities have taken steps to increase engagement, work better to understand the root-cause of social issues and subsequent solutions, by following the best global practices in philanthropy.

Let’s take a look at these:

Venture Philanthropy

As described on, “venture philosophy takes concepts and techniques from venture capital finance and high-technology business management to apply them for achieving innovative grant-making.” To put it simply, long-term social-welfare investments based on evidence and time-to-time evaluation of outcomes and realignment of goals accordingly. For example, Lien Foundations’ commissioned research into the existing healthcare facilities for the elderly and scope for improvement. The Quality of Death Index Survey propelled the policy-makers, health-care providers, and academicians to work together on improving the health-care facilities for the elderly in Singapore.

Collaborated Efforts

Of late, philanthropic foundations have been focusing greatly on opportunities for collaboration. This comprises exchange of information, co-funding, co-working etc. The different types of expertise of respective entities coming together help scale the activities up. As explained on Stanford Social Innovation Review, “when philanthropic funders collaborate, they can better help convene others, encourage coalitions of actors across sectors, and bring additional capital or resources from government, multi-lateral, corporate, and institutional partners.” The challenge here is to align the agenda and activities in such a way that it is mutually beneficial for all the stakeholders.

Addressing the root-cause

Instead of addressing the symptoms of a socio-economic problem, many philanthropic organizations are now investing in studying the root-causes of these problems. This helps in eradicating a problem to a significant extent, and shifts focus on another problem. A solution can be found to resolve the issue at grass-root level. This approach may also include focusing on one type of issue through different initiatives for communities affected by that particular issue. For example, in 2013, Robin Hood Foundation chose to address the issue of poverty in New York. Hence, the organization invested $132 million for 200 different programs which address the root-causes of poverty. These interconnected issues included poor performance at school, unemployment, homelessness, chronic illness etc.

Place-based solutions

A relatively newer model of philanthropy, it is based on helping improve the overall socio-economic conditions of a particular community or communities; rather than address specific issues or causes. Many times, the role of philanthropic organisations here is that of a funder to community-development groups already present within the specific region occupied by that community. These groups ensure that the social welfare goals of a philanthropic organisation are aligned to the needs of local people.

Which other global practices in philanthropy should be a part of our next series?

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