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

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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