Our Perspectives

Through better giving, improving lives


panasonic lantern in Sumba, IndonesiaApproximately 28 million people live below the poverty line in Indonesia. Photo: Panasonic

As the fasting month of Ramadhan – a time of introspection and good works – comes to a close, it seems appropriate to reflect on the ways we can better strive to help those who need it most.

Philanthropists in Indonesia have been working hard to do just that, directing essential funds toward initiatives that support education, good governance, and sustainable agriculture, among others.

According to research (PDF), philanthropic support in the country totals US$53 million per month. This is a remarkable figure for a lower middle-income country where approximately 28 million people live below the poverty line.

This includes a rising number of Islamic philanthropy organizations that use zakat (giving back) to improve social welfare. Dhompet Dhuafa, one of the nation’s largest independent zakat organizations, has used its donations to establish health facilities and anti-poverty programs, and its projects and those of others like it have helped millions of Indonesians.

As Franciscus Welirang, one of the founders of the Association of Philanthropy Indonesia (PFI), said at a recent UNDP event: “Philanthropy is sharing our private resources for public benefit. Those private resources could be money, goods, ideas, or any sort of participation.”

It is through better coordination of public and private resources and by cultivating more strategic partnerships that we can reach even more of those in need. With philanthropists having the advantage of greater operating freedom and greater capacity for innovation, their role is crucial to achieving both national and global development goals.

As the MDG target date of 2015 draws to a close and the United Nations finalizes its post-2015 development agenda, now is the time to strengthen opportunities for philanthropists to work together with government, the UN, and civil society to improve the quality of life of Indonesia’s 250 million people.

We, at UNDP, are working with local and international foundations such as PFI, the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and Foundation Center to better address the country’s lagging development goals, maternal mortality, childhood malnutrition, and HIV/AIDS.

We believe philanthropists can play a more active role in the planning and implementation of these goals, a role facilitated in part by making data on philanthropic investments more transparent and improving the legal framework for givers.

Engaging with givers is vital to development success, and only through better cooperation between stakeholders both public and private can we ensure that no one is left behind.

Looking forward, we will continue to work so that the selfless giving that embodies the spirit of philanthropy – literally love for humanity – is facilitated, and the gaps in development needs are filled.

Giving should support the most marginalized. Giving should be easier to do. Giving should have impact. Working together, we can reduce inequality in Indonesia and around the globe.

Indonesia Asia & the Pacific foundations Partnerships Sustainable Development Goals Millennium Development Goals

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