Global Giving Round-Up
Overviews of best-practices around the world and links to learn more about them
Global Development Alliance marks five years of public-private partnerships
The US Agency for International Development's Global Development Alliance (GDA) has been converted into an independent office, reflecting "significant advances in mainstreaming the GDA business model within the agency," said Dan Runde, Director of GDA. The former secretariat is now known as the Office of Global Development Alliances. GDA marked its fifth anniversary with the publication of a report profiling 21 of its successful public-private partnerships, including a collaboration spearheaded by Colombian philanthropist Maria Eugenia Garcés and facilitated by The Synergos Institute. The alliance forged by Garcés, a member of Synergos' Global Philanthropists Circle, is aimed at helping Colombians move toward peace and reconciliation by adapting the restorative justice model pioneered in South Africa, Northern Ireland, and other post-conflict situations. Since its creation five years ago to mobilize new resources for global development, GDA has obligated $1.5 billion to more than 400 public-private alliances around the world and leveraged more than $4.7 billion in contributions from its partners. Through these alliances, GDA has brought new private partners to the development table, including corporations, foundations, universities, and faith-based organizations. The report, The Global Development Alliance: Public Private Alliances for Transformational Development is available at the GDA website www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_partnerships/gda.
Recent developments in philanthropy in China
...new giving circles to support grassroots organizations in China
Grantmakers Without Borders (Gw/oB -- www.gwob.net) and The Clarence Foundation (www.theclarencefoundation.org) have joined forces to create new giving circles focused on philanthropic support to China, beginning in September 2006 in San Francisco and Chicago. Members will pool their funds and consider a portfolio of grassroots organizations based in China that are addressing issues of the environment, HIV/AIDS, education, and other interests of the group. Participants, to include individual and institutional donors, will engage in hands-on learning led by Gw/oB and Clarence Foundation staff and a range of expert guest speakers. The new giving circles build on a series of learning events organized by Gw/oB in Chicago, New York and San Francisco. For more information on the giving circles, contact Marc Manashil at +1 email@example.com.
...getting the word out about philanthropy in China
Grantmakers Without Borders's focus on China was highlighted at its Sixth Annual Conference on Global Social Change Philanthropy in San Mateo, CA, June 8-10. The event featured a session exclusively on grantmaking in China, and workshops on HIV/AIDS, US policy and other topics of relevance to China grantmakers. In addition, a new online publication, China Philanthropy News, has been launched by Gw/oB as a service to grantmakers and donors interested in philanthropic engagement with China. To suggest a posting or subscribe to China Philanthropy News, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bank of China launches first Chinese SRI fund
In other news from the region, the Bank of China has established that country's first socially responsible investment (SRI) fund, the Sustainable Growth Equity Fund. In managing the fund, Wu Jun, Bank of China's International Investment Manager, who also heads the bank's Sustainable Investment division, said he will look beyond financial performance to include "sustainability of the business model, corporate governance, corporate strategy and the attitude towards social responsibility" as investment criteria. Robert Rubinstein, CEO of Triple Bottom Line Consulting, organizer of an annual SRI conference in Asia, noted that China's growing need for energy and other resources poses unprecedented challenges to sustainable development. Rubinstein said that SRI was essential to drive as much of China's growth as possible into more energy efficient and sustainable technologies and production. (CSRwire, May 24, 2006)
Johnson-Sirleaf, Turner to be honored at University for a Night 2006
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the UN Foundation's Ted Turner will be honored at Synergos' University for a Night event in New York on October 12 with the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Awards. Each year, University for a Night convenes leaders from around the world -- from business, government and civil society -- to explore ways to create systemic solutions to poverty, inequity, conflict, environmental degradation and other critical problems. Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, who is the first woman to be elected to head of state in Africa, and Mr. Turner will be joined in a plenary discussion by E. Neville Isdell, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. Following the plenary, they and 50 other global leaders will help lead the discussions at small tables over dinner about particular global challenges and initiatives. JPMorgan is Founding Sponsor of University for a Night and Marcos de Moraes is Event Underwriter. For more information visit www.universityforanight.org.
International Fundraising Congress coming in October
The International Fundraising Conference (IFC) is the world's leading event for senior fundraisers, attracting 800 participants from more than 45 countries, and offering the latest thinking, trends and development in the field. The 26th IFC, to be held October 17-20 at the NH Leeuwenhorst Hotel, the Netherlands, will feature 113 new master classes ranging from running integrated major donor campaigns to how to approach foundations. The conference will showcase 50 world-class speakers including Karen Osborne, Bernard Ross, Tony Elischer, Kay Sprinkel Grace, Stephen Pidgeon, Richard Radcliffe, Simone Joyaux and more. Contact email@example.com or telephone at +44 (0) 20 7065 0802.
Buffett and Gates join philanthropic forces
The month of June saw announcements from two of the world's most successful and influential business leaders that rocked the field of global philanthropy.
First, Bill Gates, 50, announced on June 15 that he was stepping down from daily operations at Microsoft to devote more time to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (www.gatesfoundation.org).
A little more than a week later, Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett, 75, said he was donating the bulk of his $44 billion fortune -- 85% of his Berkshire stock -- to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and to previously existing foundations established by his children and his late wife, Susan Thompson Buffett.
The majority of the gift, about $31 billion, will go to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whose principals are close friends of Buffett's. Buffett will start transferring the money in July; Berkshire's stock price on the date of each gift will determine its dollar value. His 2006 gift to the foundation, 500,000 shares, is worth about $1.5 billion, which is roughly equivalent to the Gates Foundation's current annual grantmaking.
Buffett's announcement came as a surprise in light of his previously stated intention to wait until his death to give his fortune away. After his wife passed away in 2004, Buffett began to reevaluate his philanthropic options, he said in a television appearance with Bill and Melinda Gates that aired shortly after he made his decision public.
"I thought she'd outlive me and she'd make the big decisions," Buffett told interviewer Charlie Rose. "I like immediate feedback -- I walk into an ice cream store and I want a triple dip right away. In philanthropy, you have to take a longer view. I thought I'd be terrible at philanthropy." In the Gates Foundation, Buffett said, "I had a solution staring me in the face."
Gates said that he and Buffett had been discussing the possibility of a philanthropic partnership for the last year and a half. Although Buffett will become a trustee of the Gates Foundation, he said that he prefers to leave the decisions about how to allocate his gift to the current leadership of the foundation -- Bill and Melinda Gates, Bill Gates Sr., and CEO Patty Stonesifer.
Media coverage to date has focused on the staggering amounts of money involved -- on the world's second wealthiest man giving his fortune away to what was already the largest foundation ever, run by the globe's richest man and his wife.
In fact, Buffett's commitment is the largest in philanthropic history. The previous record was held by Bill and Melinda Gates themselves, who donated more than $29 billion in Microsoft assets to enlarge their foundation.
Still to be determined, however, is the most effective way for the Gates Foundation to put its dramatically expanded grantmaking power to use. The announcement of Buffett's record-breaking benevolence triggered a flood of commentary and advice on this topic from experts in the fields of business, philanthropy and international development.
Mark R. Kramer, co-founder of the US-based Center for Effective Philanthropy (www.effectivephilanthropy.com), cautioned against equating Buffett's unprecedented generosity with immediate social impact.
"The sudden, massive and highly publicized gift offers a sharp contrast to the slow, complicated and unheralded work that the Gates Foundation must now undertake to deliver the benefits to society that are assumed to flow automatically from such munificence," observed Kramer, commenting in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
In announcing the partnership, Bill and Melinda Gates said their foundation would use the expanded funding to continue along the lines of work it is already engaged in -- accelerating and deepening support for global health and education in the US -- rather than taking on new causes.
Some of the funding is also likely to support the foundation's recently announced Global Development program, rolled out in April, aimed at countering extreme poverty through improvements in agricultural productivity and access to financial services in the developing world. The foundation also expects to step up its efforts to get governments more involved in philanthropic partnerships, Bill Gates said.
At a news conference in New York on June 26, Bill Gates said it was another contemporary titan of business, Ted Turner, who had set the stage by challenging the world's wealthiest citizens to give back to society. Turner himself set a notable example in 1998, when he gave $1 billion in Time Warner stock to create the United Nations Foundation.
Asked whether other would-be philanthropists should follow Buffett's example and channel their wealth into the Gates Foundation, Bill Gates demurred, explaining that "we're not set up to accept money from others." Displaying his characteristic entrepreneurial spirit, however, Gates added that if there were enough interest among wealthy individuals in directly joining forces with the Gates Foundation as Buffett did, "we'll look at what we can do to set things up." (Fortune, June 25, 2006; Chronicle of Philanthropy, June 29, 2006; The Charlie Rose Show, June 26, 2006; The Gates Foundation)
What's new in microfinance...
...Gates Foundation gives $1.46 million to Unitus for microfinance innovations
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (www.gatesfoundation.org) has awarded $1.46 million to Unitus (www.unitus.com) a nonprofit organization that uses a venture capital model to dramatically accelerate the growth of microfinance institutions (MFIs). Unitus, founded by Mike Murray, a member of The Synergos Institute's Global Philanthropists Circle, will use the grant to identify potential innovations in the efficiency of the microfinance business model. Under the three-year project, Unitus will work with four of its MFI partners in India and Latin America to create improvements in operational and financial efficiency that can be shared across the industry. Sylvia Matthews, president of the Global Development Program at the Gates Foundation, said the foundation expects that the MFIs Unitus chooses for the project will achieve a 10% gain in operational efficiency within the grant period. As of May 2006, Unitus, based in Redmond, WA and Bangalore, India, had nine partners worldwide serving more than 679,000 poor clients. (Puget Sound Business Journal, May 22, 2006)
...Unitus, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation team up on microfinance in India
The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (www.msdf.org) and Unitus Equity Fund, L.P., a private equity fund formed by Unitus, announced May 18 that they will invest jointly in Ujjivan Financial Services Private Ltd., an Indian microfinance institution. Unitus will have a 24% ownership stake; the foundation a 13.8% stake; and the Bellwether Microfinance Fund, which had earlier invested in Ujjivan, a 12.6% stake. The combined funds will provide Ujjivan with the capital it needs to reach more than 600,000 borrowers by 2011. Microfinance in India is still mainly a rural phenomenon, with only a handful of MFIs providing services to the urban poor. Ujjivan, based in Bangalore, fills this gap by providing financial services to economically active urban poor people, particularly women. (Michael & Susan Dell Foundation news release, May 18, 2006)
Investors to get rating tool for microfinance funds
Belief in the market strength of microfinance was further demonstrated with the unveiling in May of a rating tool for the industry that is backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (www.gatesfoundation.org), the Omidyar Network (www.omidyar.net), and the Gray Ghost Microfinance Fund (www.grayghostfund.com). "This rating tool is critically important in advancing microfinance as a distinct asset class because it is the first attempt to stop comparing apples and oranges, which is what investors have been forced to do when shopping for microfinance investment products," said David Sattherthwaite, developer of MicroCapital (www.microcapital.org) a web-based information clearinghouse on microfinance. MicroRate (www.microrate.com) a company that evaluates microfinance institutions, has been at work for several years on developing a rating tool. A recent survey of the industry by MicroRate found 59 funds or investment vehicles that invest in microfinance institutions in developing countries. MicroRate is expected to hit the market by mid-summer 2006; the rating tool will offer brief descriptive reports on each microfinance investment vehicle that include risk profiles and geographic distribution, and will measure each fund on a range of performance indicators. (SocialFunds.com, May 24, 2006)
Chicago Global Donors conference connects local and global action
The Chicago Global Donors Network (www.chicagoglobaldonors.org) hosted its Third Annual Conference on International Giving: Chicago in the World -- The World in Chicago on June 26-27. The event brought together a high-level group of international leaders, diaspora donors and other experts to discuss how to act both globally and locally to impact some of the most challenging issues of the day. Keynoting the conference was Manuel Arango, a leader and pioneer in Mexican philanthropy and corporate social responsibility, who established the Mexican Center for Philanthropy (CEMEFI -- www.cemefi.org). Arango is the co-founder of a national retail chain in Mexico, and founder and chairman of a Mexican real estate development company. Conference participants met with Mexican diaspora donors and learned about the immigrant experience in Chicago in a visit to Casa Michoacan, part of a network of diaspora giving circles organized to support their home state of Michoacan, Mexico. Discussion groups provided philanthropists, activists and international experts a chance to exchange information on global challenges such as refugees, climate change and a range of other pressing concerns. The conference closed with a talk from Gayle Smith of the Center for American Progress, and Mark Hanis, founder of Genocide Intervention Network. Hanis, inspired by the history of his grandparents, all of whom were holocaust survivors, began the Genocide Information Network as a senior in college, frustrated by a lack of action from the US Government against the genocide in the Sudan. Where Manuel Arango demonstrated philanthropic leadership from the perspective of a successful business entrepreneur, Hanis showed that personal commitment and youthful energy can also contribute to reaching philanthropic goals. The event was sponsored by LaSalle Bank ABN AMRO, The Boeing Company, Quarles & Brady and the global health care company Abbott.
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