Philanthropy » Overview

As transnational challenges multiply, philanthropy and investment are at an important crossroads. The convergence of worldwide need, rising global wealth, and rapid innovation has the potential to accelerate action to align financial flows with sustainable and inclusive development and a low-carbon future. Pioneering institutions and individuals have a pivotal role to play.  

Salzburg Global launched this multi-year initiative in 2008. The first phase addressed institutional frameworks, exploring the structures, policies and approaches needed to transform philanthropy and social investment and build collaboration for 21st century priorities. Progressively, the series of programs has engaged new players developing practices and structures to fit specific contexts and respond effectively to local needs. Growing dynamism in civil society, social entrepreneurship, and in-country or diaspora private sector development has dramatically expanded opportunities to create and fund strategies for systems change and community benefit.

2016 marks a turning point, after the adoption of new climate change goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which is the shared responsibility of “all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership.” As growth continues in institutional and private philanthropy and sustainable investment, there is major potential to catalyze social, economic and environmental transformation, and bring promising initiatives to scale for the public good. 

Salzburg Global’s multi-year series aims to accelerate the effectiveness of changemakers in philanthropy, investment and finance, focusing on ways to create an enabling environment, improve accountability and shape a new human narrative. 2016 sees the next phase of our collaboration with the Global Friends consortium, focused on philanthropic innovation to support transition to a climate-balanced economy and foster US-China collaboration to this end. 


Interviews and session coverage from our Philanthropy programs

Barbara Ibrahim: Egyptian Philanthropy needs diversity
Barbara Ibrahim: Egyptian Philanthropy needs diversity
Alex Jackson 
Barbara Ibrahim is the founding director of the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at the American University in Cairo (AUC). Originally from the USA, Ibrahim has lived in Egypt for nearly 40 years and is married to renowned and formerly exiled civil society academic and activist Saad Ibrahim. A many-time Fellow and faculty member of Salzburg Global Seminar, she spoke to Salzburg Global Communications Intern Alex Jackson during the session Value(s) for Money: Philanthropy as a Catalyst for Social and Financial Change. On your twitter biography, it says “Egypt is worth fighting for and I’m in it for the long haul.” Do you feel that international philanthropy has already started to forget about the tensions in Egypt because there are mounting problems in other areas?
I would have to say that that is true. First of all, I think the Arab Spring moment happened just as private philanthropy was coming out of the global recession. So there wasn’t as much of an expansive sense of resources as perhaps benefitted the Eastern European/Russian Federation transitions. There’s also a concern on the part of European and North American donors that the Muslim world and the Arab region are a little bit messy in terms of identity politics; there’s a clear strain of rejection or questioning of Western models. So for these reasons, I think there was initial interest, at small levels of funding, but as the Arab transformations have become more complex, have not been the bright shiny media images that they were perhaps in the first few months, very few donors from the international sphere have been able to stay the course. Was the initial philanthropic reaction too slow? Was the backup not there to support transformation to start with?
I wouldn’t put it exactly that way. The uprisings of 2010 onwards, I wouldn’t call those the transformations. Those were the fall of an old broken corrupt system and they were very abrupt. If you think about the transitions in Poland or the Czech Republic, they took months and years. These happened in days. That is too rapid in some ways. It’s not enough time to build up coalitions in the space and the frame that has fallen. They happened in an environment in which there had been no space for opposition politics to evolve in a healthy way; there was a vacuum. And into that vacuum very quickly stepped the Islamists, who had a lot of grassroots organizing experience. They knew how to operate under the radar, they knew how to organize themselves. The armies too: in countries like Egypt, the armies stepped into what they thought might be an uncontrollable situation. They’re not comfortable with uncertainty or with democracy. They’re command-and-control institutions after all. And over time, discredited old regimes regrouped. So that crowded out the new ideas, the young voices and those aspirations that informed the Arab Spring. In that sense, is there also an identity and cultural crisis that is driving movement in the region?
We certainly have a polarization of views towards the future right now. One of them is Islamist and I would not want to characterize that as one thing. It is an entire spectrum of ideas based around faith and politics. On the other side of this gap, we see more secular global democratic visions. They represent a minority still – they represent groups that do not have a great voice, like young people, like labor movements, like global interests in making markets more responsive to the poor. All those voices are still marginalized and so one of our roles I would argue as private philanthropy is to create a platform in which these two camps can come together. And not just dialogue, I think we have done enough of that, but roll up their sleeves and find a common project or shared goal, even if it just one of cleaning up neighborhoods, or solid waste management. Work together and try to build something together that will go some way to trying to rebuild these broken and fractured communities and societies. Is there a disconnect between philanthropy and the government? We have heard in the session that there can be mistrust of money and where it’s come from?
Philanthropy is not one thing either just as political movements aren’t just one thing. You have local philanthropy which is very different from each of these emerging transitioning countries. If we take Egypt as an example we had an emerging private philanthropy sector, which included family foundations, public foundations. But the moment of uprising came as a shock to all of the systems of society. So for philanthropy, if you had got your permission to operate by being close to the Mubarak family or its cronies, you were under investigation. You had to take a lower profile. If you were a corporate foundation, you found your revenue stream cut by two thirds perhaps. So our sector wasn’t well enough established in its diversity to play the role of rapid response. There were great exceptions and we have tried to document those good practice examples but I would have to say that local philanthropy hasn’t yet risen to the opportunity. They are trying to fill that void but they don’t have that flexibility that I would argue that private philanthropy could and should have made. What are the Gerhart Center's plans for the immediate future?
My center sees itself as part of the support system for strengthening the culture of giving and the institutions that make that giving more strategic. So in that support role, we have been documenting how things have been changing in the Arab Spring, so that those emergent opportunities and the kind of citizen philanthropy that we have identified is out there for people to understand and to support. We have looked at how informal some of this philanthropy is and whether there are ways to assist groups who would like to have a more sustainable model for their community work. So we’re a catalyst, we’re a platform, we’re matchmakers. Our focus right now is on next generation philanthropy and civic engagement – so what can universities do to produce good citizens and social innovators as well as job seekers and applicants. Why is it important to discuss issue surrounding philanthropy here in Salzburg?
Private philanthropy is unique in that it really has no constituents that it answers to except its own internal boards of trustees. There are few opportunities like this in a safe space to talk very frankly about our failures, talk about our shortcomings, talk about how blinkered our vision may have been either in our own country, or our own sector, or our own type of philanthropy. So I think these will be incredibly important for opening out the discussions for forcing us to engage with people that are very different in their views of things. Sometimes it is a bit explosive but it is always positive. What are your key takeaways from this session?
What I will be taking back is a sense of a growing malaise or dissatisfaction in our sector with the lack of global vision and sustainable toolkits. We have to overcome what seems to be a kind of polarity that has been existing in the past between grant making and traditional ways of doing philanthropy and I think this meeting has gone a long way forward in saying the toolkit needs to be broader than that. I think Arab philanthropy is at a young enough point in its evolution that we can jump on the learning curve and thus we can speed up the process.
Barbara Ibrahim was a participant at the Salzburg Global Seminar session "Value(s) for Money? Philanthropy as a Catalyst for Social and Financial Change", which was sponsored by Hivos. You can read interviews with a number of the other speakers and participants of the session on the webpagewww.salzburgglobal.org/go/530
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Emmett Carson: Young Billionaires and the Renaissance of Philanthropy
Emmett Carson: Young Billionaires and the Renaissance of Philanthropy
Alex Jackson 
“I am African American, I am male and I am a United States citizen. Which one am I right at this moment?” poses Emmett Carson, CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Of course, the answer is all three, something which he says is important in recognising when we think of ourselves as global citizens, trying to change the world. “I think global citizens are at once local, national and international. The new world is about the people that say I don’t simultaneously see in my head separate linkages between where I live; what the corporate world needs to be; what the global world needs to be. They fuse it all into one single experience and identity and I think that’s all to the good. I think we limit people when we try to define them as one singular community.” This viewpoint is something that Carson has held since he was in high school. “I wanted to understand why markets work for some people and why they didn’t seemingly work for others,” he explained; when you study different sectors of disadvantaged people, you build up a bigger picture of the ways in which markets work. The spectrum of problems faced by different communities is wide and varied, and Carson points to cultural, social and economic issues that deprive certain areas. “Philanthropy is about trying to allocate limited resources to unlimited needs.” The esteemed philanthropist has dealt with this inequality his whole life. As a child, he grew up in a disadvantaged community in Chicago, IL, USA. Only when he moved to a different area of the city did he notice the stark contrasts enjoyed in other suburbs. The experience is something that still motivates him today, as he reflects on how his hometown has gradually declined even further. “The real issue is that so many can’t get access to being successful and I think we misplace the energy on why others have been successful as if people have done something wrong. I get the opportunity to meet with many of these individuals and they come from many humble and modest backgrounds. They have worked very hard. We shouldn’t begrudge the fact that they have been successful.” Instead, Carson, who oversaw the largest merger of community foundation groups in US history between the Peninsula Community Foundation and Community Foundation Silicon Valley, believes that we can compare the hesitancy of foundations to surfers, waiting for the right wave to catch. The perfect storm of his metaphor lies in growing inequities: “We are trying to put it into perspective what is going on in that inequality. We ought to ask what is it about our communities and our societies that don’t produce more opportunities for success and I think the opportunity for philanthropy is in the middle of this wave.” Silicon Valley Community Foundation is certainly one of the companies most likely to cause waves at the moment as one of the most prolific grant makers on the West Coast of America. By highlighting the need for investment and improvement in key areas such as economic security, education, immigration, and regional planning, Carson’s business has not only gained international repute for philanthropy, but has gained attention from the dotcom world, with 29-year-old billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, donating shares in the social media monolith to the value of almost $1billion in 2013, the largest charitable gift on public record for the year. “Historically, people have waited to be successful and then engage in philanthropy. Certainly that was the Bill Gates model, that’s what the Fords and the Carnegies and the Rockefellers did. But if you think about Mark Zuckerberg, his wife, Priscila Chan, and their ages, and people of their generation. It means they will have 40 to 50 years to engage in philanthropy. How much more experienced will they be, how much more nuanced will they be in their thinking 10 years from now, 20 years from now? So that is the real renaissance in philanthropy.” With more people being able to discuss and populate the philanthropy ecosystem, there are a lot more issues being addressed. Carson points to benefactors in the area who are now much more libertarian in their views, and are actively participating in debates on immigration, education and the legalisation of marijuana, to name a few. The diversification of the sphere promises an acceleration in philanthropic trends, suggests Carson. “It used to be that philanthropy was the province of foundations: now philanthropy is the province of everyone.” But this creates as many problems as it solves. “Now there is a much more complicated picture of people raising and complicating money and goods. And we don’t know what that system looks like. We don’t have a way of relating to each other. We don’t understand this new ecosystem.” Carson pauses when considering how this is both exciting and dangerous. He reflects on how social media has managed to galvanise sentiment to overthrow governments, alert people to pending disasters, and spur civic movements. Our information is only getting deeper, and he suggests this wealth of knowledge needs to be harnessed in order to make philanthropy organisations a more efficient and effective system in the 21st Century. “These are tools which by themselves are agnostic. It takes the people to give them the value proposition that will result in improving quality of life.”
Emmett Carson was a speaker at the Salzburg Global Seminar session "Value(s) for Money? Philanthropy as a Catalyst for Social and Financial Change", which was sponsored by Hivos. You can read interviews with a number of the other speakers and participants of the session on the webpage: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/530
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Value(s) for Money?
Value(s) for Money?
Louise Hallman 
Philanthropy has existed for centuries. Linguistically its roots belong in Ancient Greek, meaning “love for humanity”. As a concept, using money to make the lives of others better, it reaches back to the Age of Enlightenment, in 17th and 18th century Europe. But this does not mean the concept is static, unchanging. The ideas surrounding what money, whose money, for what purpose and how are contentious. The multitude of different actors, acting in a multitude of different ways has created not only a vast landscape of philanthropy, but an ecosystem; all parts existing, living and affecting each other. Just what is this ecosystem, how can and should its composite parts interact and how can the system be better structured are all issues up for discussion at Salzburg Global Seminar this week as 46 philanthropy sector actors, from grant makers to grant seekers, philanthro-capitalists to “traditional” foundations, and academic and activists, arrive at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, for the session “Value(s) for Money? Philanthropy as a Catalyst for Social and Financial Transformation”. Over the next two days, the participants, from 17 different countries, will deconstruct the current funding ecosystem, establishing where within it their organizations function, and consider the financial flows, the enabling environment, and current and potential results. Through dynamic, interactive group work, the participants will build their ideal ecosystem, and envision how best they can share this new found perspective throughout the philanthropy landscape. Inspired by an article by leading philanthropy expert, writer and activist, Michael Edwards entitled: “Beauty and the Beast: Can Money Ever Foster Social Transformation?”, the two and a half day program is being sponsored by Hivos, the Netherlands-based international development organization. Speaking at the opening session, Hivos director of programs and projects, Ben Witjes explained Hivos’ interest in the session: as a funding-seeker, funding-giver and a program implementer, the organization wants to know how the ecosystem is currently working and how it can work better. “Finance has become a lot more complicated,” said Witjes. Over the centuries, philanthropy has expanded from simply wealthy individuals funding “good causes” to now embracing more market-driven principles; risk assessments and expected returns and impact of investments are just as common in the language of philanthropy as they are in business. Innovative funding mechanisms that support social change – like crowd-funding, social impact bonds, payments for eco-system services and prize-backed challenges – have diversified the funding landscape and brought in new resources. The system, however, is arguably out of balance with too much focus placed on revenue-generation, and directing financial resources through the market. At the same time, less funding is available for the deeper, less tangible drivers of social change – change that is driven by the beneficiaries themselves and is inherently more democratic. Money, while a seemingly essential tool in change processes, can be a “curse”, reinforcing or exacerbating the very circumstances and power imbalances at the heart of systemic social challenges. As funding sources shrink and immediate impacts are more commonly expected, are those who take this funding and attempt to enact social change becoming too narrow in scope, favoring individual improvements over long-term systemic change? One example given on the opening day of the session came from women’s rights advocate Angelika Arutyunova. Arutyunova’s work includes research into the funding of women’s rights organizations, “Watering the Leaves, Starving the Roots: The Status of Financing for Women’s Rights Organizing and Gender Equality” and “New Actors, New Money, New Conversations: A Mapping of Recent Initiatives for Women and Girls” for AWID, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development. Her research found that of the 170 new women’s rights initiatives included in the study, of the $14.6bn committed, 35% of this money was allocated for “women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship”, 44% of which was given in technical assistance to individual women. This individual approach, whilst beneficial to the women involved and promising near-instant results, however, often fail to address the systemic issues that inhibit women from entering the workforce, such as enforced gender roles, respect and safety for women in the work place, and lack of education. Her research also concluded that whilst the “leaves” – individual women and girls – are receiving growing attention, there has been a lack of support for “the roots” – the sustained, collective action by feminists and women’s rights activists and organizations that has been at the center of women’s rights advances throughout history. The support for the collective action, she argued, is necessary to ensure more systemic, rather than individual change. However, that is not to say that all organizations now need to start working towards broader systemic change. Change is a matrix, posited Arutyunova: one axis spanning from the individual to the community to the broader system, with the other spanning from informal (cultural and social norms, beliefs, practices) to the formal (laws, policies, resource allocations). Not all actors need to act across all points of the matrix, but all actors need to be aware of their niche and how it fits into the broader action for change. Over the course of the next two days, many of the Fellows will be invited to present their own case studies and experiences, as the group work towards the session’s five goals of not only mapping the current funding landscape to locate gaps and fault lines by issue, sector or region, but also stimulating the exchange of experience and ideas to deepen the knowledge base and identify options for short- and longer-term strategies; prioritizing components of a new funding ecosystem, taking into account current geo-political and -financial environments; targeting achievable yet significant interventions that can create tangible improvements over the next year; and taking account of provider and recipient motivations, scope roles and opportunities for collaboration between different actors, including government and multi-lateral organizations.  The session continues Salzburg Global's series of session on the issues surrounding philanthropy, the last of which were held in 2012, "Value vs. Profit: Recalculating ROI in Financial and Social Terms" and "Philanthropy in Times of Crisis and Transition: Catalyzing Forces of Change." 
You can follow all the discussions from the session on Twitter with the hashtag #SGSphil. All session materials, tweets and blog posts can be found on the session page: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/530  
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Taking Advantage of the "Hope for Change"
Taking Advantage of the "Hope for Change"
Louise Hallman 
Vast areas of the world are in a period of great change and transition, most notably in the Middle East and North Africa following the 2010-11 “Arab Spring”.  Countries that had long had a totalitarian or dictatorial regime, such as Libya, Tunisia and Egypt are transforming into democracies and opening up opportunities for civil societies.  These civil society groups and NGOs, long thwarted by the old regimes, either have to be “born or emerge from the underground”. To do this, many of them need funding – this is where foundations, both international and local(ized) can play a role. 28 long-experienced philanthropic foundation experts have come together this weekend in Salzburg, at Schloss Leopoldskron, home of the Salzburg Global Seminar, to examine this role, in the seminar ‘Philanthropy in Times of Crisis and Transition: Catalyzing Forces of Change’ (1-4 December). Representing a variety of foundations, from small community foundations to large global foundations, participants have come 17 different countries in Europe, USA, Latin America, Africa and, unsurprisingly, the Middle East, to share their experiences and take part in a peer learning and exchange. With Fellows from South Africa and Eastern Europe – which have had their time of crisis and are now working through different stages of transition – as well as those from foundations now taking advantage of the opening up of transitory Middle East, the seminar is eschewing the traditional Salzburg Global Seminar model of faculty and Fellows, with all participants instead focussing on knowledge sharing, skills building and capacity enhancement, and all dispensing their expertise in working in regions that have recently experienced significant socio-political transitions. Times of crisis and the subsequent, much longer period of transition pose different challenges to global and local philanthropic foundations.  Local foundations might suddenly be able to act in a country where they had previously been legally prohibited, as was the case in Libya, but long-serving global foundations might find a new hostility in a newly nationally proud society that wants to oust seemingly foreign influence.  As new local NGOs sprout up, rather than relying on overseas grants – which can sometimes lead to them also being accused of being agents of foreign actors – large foundations can have a role in helping smaller local foundations improve their own sustainability and long-term capacity. Over the intense two and a half day meeting, Fellows will consider what challenges and opportunities face philanthropic foundation in times of both crisis and transition; who should foundations partner with in these periods, particularly once new governments have been established; what role and interaction should international, local and localized donors should have; what balance should be sought between near and long-term investments; and how best can foundations create strategies for impact. Creating strategy in such fast-changing societies can prove particularly difficult, especially as multiple transitions may be happening at the same time at different levels and in different areas of country, and as foundations often work in not only building philanthropic practices in a country, but also changing how these practices work at the same time. This sharing of expertise, enhanced by group work and online interaction on the new Salzburg Global Fellowship Yammer network, will lead to the publication of a practical handbook for foundations working in countries of crisis and transitions by co-organizer the Institute for Integrated Transitions. This seminar was developed with input from the Arab Foundations Forum and in cooperation with John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at the American University in Cairo and the Institute for Integrated Transitions.
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