WINGS Report: Infrastructure in Focus—A Global Picture of Organizations Serving Philanthropy

infra_report_300On behalf of the Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS), we are pleased to share with you a new publication, Infrastructure in Focus: A Global Picture of Organizations Serving Philanthropy.

As the report details, infrastructure organizations range from membership associations to affinity networks and include advocacy, capacity-building and research organizations focused on the philanthropy field. This growing community of institutions dedicated to strengthening global giving and social investing is explored through statistics in the report presented here. It draws on data from members of the WINGS network spanning 52 countries and six continents. The great diversity and dynamism of this emerging field is captured in user-friendly graphs and charts, some of which may surprise you. We believe that the study will help to put philanthropy infrastructure organizations firmly ‘on the map’. It will be of value to a large and varied audience including policy makers, philanthropists, nonprofit practitioners, and academics who wish to understand and strengthen both the practice of philanthropy and philanthropy networking organizations themselves.

As members of the advisory committee for this report we began with the goal of updating data that was first presented in the 2010 WINGS report, Global Institutional Philanthropy: A Preliminary Status Report. However it soon became apparent that difficulties resulting from lack of agreement on terminology meant there would be little value in that approach. Instead, the decision was made to adopt an iterative process of testing comparability of terms from one country setting to the next until we had a better understanding of local context, practices and discourse. This required the active participation of WINGS members in advancing the knowledge base as we moved from one iteration to the next. We are deeply thankful to them for their time and commitment to the goals of the project.

An earlier version of this report was circulated in March 2013. The fact that members of WINGS were willing to participate in refining their data a final time for the version presented here is an indication that they do not see this exercise as a one-time event. Instead it is an ongoing process which aims to demonstrate the wealth of existing knowledge while illuminating critical data gaps. Members’ participation demonstrates the ability of a collaborative effort to bring forward new and important knowledge that is not built on one perspective but on different practices, highlighting the richness and diversity. This is a vote of confidence by WINGS members, and it gives legitimacy to further investment in WINGS as a strong global network.

The report aims to enhance the knowledge of global philanthropy. It also engages its members in actively identifying the gaps in our knowledge, and understanding better their local practices within a global context. Though we are diverse, we have a common platform through which to build and share many of the same values. The report identifies four elements of such a platform: data, practices update, ability to measure impact and communication. We believe it is important to create a degree of commonality while encouraging the richness of diversity, build common understanding of terms within global and local contexts, and strengthen ownership of this knowledge-building by WINGS members.

We want to give special recognition to Ana Pinho, WINGS knowledge management coordinator who oversaw the entire process of collecting data and producing the report with meticulous care. Barry Knight brought his unique insights about global philanthropy and advanced methodological skills to the design, analysis and writing tasks, while Larry McGill, vice president for research at The Foundation Center was a wise adviser to the team throughout the entire process.

We are sure we speak for all of our colleagues on the advisory committee in saying that this report creates a new dynamic in the way data is compiled and understood. As one looks back over the long history of a few pioneer infrastructure organizations and the rise of a new generation of them in developing regions of the world, it will be exciting to see what the coming years will bring.

Atallah Kuttab Chairman of the board SAANED for Philanthropy Advisory
Barbara Ibrahim Director John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement
Helena Monteiro Executive Director WINGS

Download Infrastructure in Focus: A Global Picture of Organizations Serving Philanthropy from the WINGS Knowledge Center. Infrastructure of Philanthropy is one of six event plenaries for WINGSForum 2014: The Power of Networks. Follow on Twitter with #WFnetworks.

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