Our Perspectives

Philanthropy as a partner in implementing the Post 2015 development goals


A woman sitting in a class room. Philanthropy has so much to offer. Photo: UNDP in Pakistan.

Philanthropy is evolving rapidly as a sector, taking new shapes and forms. Although philanthropic contributions are poorly measured because difficult to estimate, total philanthropy from Northern countries (DAC donors) was reported to be $59 billion in 2011.

Traditional philanthropic giving, such as grant-making, have been complemented by innovative approaches such as impact investing and advocacy, and more voices are calling for strategic philanthropy to engage in the conversation on the Post-2015 development agenda, another new development within the sector that traditionally has been aside of global processes.

When we first reached out to foundations asking their views on the future development goals, our conversation was mostly about explaining the MDGs. The language and the measuring mechanisms of the MDG framework have not been well known or used by foundations, despite enormous philanthropic resources committed to issues such as education and health.

The Global Philanthropy Forum (GPF), dedicated to global development, did not mention MDGs during its annual gathering.

But this conversation has shifted dramatically. Committed foundations and associations have stepped up efforts in mobilizing and educating peers about the importance of the conversation about the future global development goals and implications for philanthropic strategies.

“Collaborative philanthropy” became the buzzword at the GPF meeting or at the conference hosted by the Ford Foundation and co-organized by UNDP and other foundations, involving 150 foundations and associations, held last September. The objective was to talk about philanthropic contributions to the global discussion about the Post-2015 agenda. Check out this storify, which captures thought provoking statements from philanthropic leaders on the topic.

Philanthropy has so much to offer. Since foundations are strongly rooted among civil society organizations, their networks can facilitate UNDP access to new target audiences.

Another important attribute is the sector dedication to experiment and pilot new initiatives. But we also need reliable data. A big challenge for philanthropy is the lack of information about who is doing what. This issue is addressed by practitioners and partners. Actually we did team up with them to work together on solutions to better track philanthropic contributions.

Although no doubt the sector is very diverse with a huge array of actors, perspectives and models of operating, the strong unifying thread which drives this field forward is creating impact on the ground.

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