Foundations Play an Increasing Role in International Development
According to The Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances 2011 (35 pages, PDF), a new report from the Hudson Institute, official development assistance from Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development members totaled $120 billion in 2009, private capital investment in developing countries totaled another $258 billion, and global remittances — transfers of money by workers in foreign countries to their home countries — totaled some $174 billion. While the $53 billion total from philanthropic sources lags those figures, it represents a significant chunk of total funding for international development activities.
According to Dr. Noshua Watson, a research fellow at the UK-based Institute of Development Studies, philanthropy's ability to take risks, fund new approaches, and form partnerships positions it to be a major driver of innovation in the international development field. By the same token, she said, because private foundations have fewer public reporting requirements than governments and multilateral organizations and therefore are less accountable and transparent than governments, there's a downside to more private sector involvement in development.
Still, as philanthropy's engagement with global issues grows, the relationship between philanthropy and development has become an increasingly popular topic of conversation. To help guide that conversation, IDS, the UK-based Resource Alliance, and the Rockefeller Foundation launched the Bellagio Initiative to bring stakeholders together to discuss ways to strengthen and coordinate collaboration between philanthropists and those working in the international development field. One of the central themes of the initiative, the concept of human well-being, aims to promote a broader measure of human development that includes factors beyond the traditional economic indicators.
"At the heart of the well-being approach is the recognition that we all aspire to live well together," said Bellagio Initiative director Allister McGregor, "to be content with the things that we have, the relationships that enable us to achieve our goals, and our feelings that we have about how well we are doing in life."
Tran, Mark. “Philanthropic Foundations Bring New Challenges to Aid Debate.” Guardian 11/09/11.