10 ways philanthropists are changing the world
Private giving in the UK is already worth around £9bn each year. With a bit of creativity, this can go up and the way that money is spent can deliver a greater impact on the ground. As NPC suggested in its report last week, it’s time to look around the world for trends and innovations in philanthropy that have the potential to change the world. We can start with these 10.
Share your data
If philanthropists share and compare their data, they can better learn what interventions work and which don’t. Yet remarkably few do this, despite the great example set by Canadian not-for-profitPoweredByData. More open data can help philanthropists make an impact in an increasingly complex world.
Pool your resources
Washfunders.org is an online portal for anyone interested in funding solutions to water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash) crises around the world. With so much information in one place, philanthropists, charities and governments can make sense of the sector and use data to decide where to put their money.
The initiative Glasspockets supports philanthropic foundations in the US to embrace greater openness. Evaluations, case studies and research can all be made available, so that philanthropists act less as rivals and more as collaborators working to solve problems around the world.
Learn from failure
The UK’s Shell Foundation tries to prove the wisdom of the old proverb, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” They have been brave enough to publish a report detailing the failures as well as the successes of its funding decisions—a public acknowledgment of mistakes which has already helped ensure that the same mistakes aren’t repeated.
Think like a start-up
The Knight Prototype Fund has helped US charities get great ideas get off the ground by providing capital to organisations that want to experiment and take a few risks works before further capital is invested. “Lean philanthropy” is a great approach for testing out new ideas in the sector.
Work with like-minded friends
“Giving circles” have been around for a while: a small group of philanthropists, with an interest in the same social issues, team up to work together on research and strategy before funding charities to take action. The Indian non-profit Dasra leads the way on introducing this way of giving.
Get beneficiaries involved
Some philanthropists are worried about the power they wield in the sector—no matter how honourable the intentions, philanthropy has long suffered from a top-down power dynamic. Edge Fund, here in the UK, tries to address this by operating as a membership body, so that the Fund’s grantees can bring their expert knowledge to future strategic decisions.
Adopt different funding models
In 2008, Australia’s largest provider of childcare went into administration. Nearly 700 childcare centres were at risk. So four organisations formed the social enterprise Goodstart Consortium, which secured a range of funding sources, from bank debt and government loans to social investment. They even created a whole new financial instrument, the “social capital note”, to persuade individuals to invest their cash.
Embrace impact investing
KL Felicitas Foundation in the US is leading the way on impact investing. Instead of distributing a small percentage of assets to social projects, as most foundations do, it is dedicated to investing 100% of the endowment to support its social mission. Similar action from top foundations in the UK could free up billions of pounds.
Find beneficiaries online
Online giving markets — platforms where philanthropists can either invest or give directly to projects—have been around for years, and are evolving all the time. The German betterplace.org website is one of the most innovative, where philanthropists and potential grantees can communicate directly on everything from cash to fund a friend’s medical treatment to assisting Syrian refugees.