Philanthropy infrastructure in a transforming world — current developments

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For the latest annual CIVICUS report on the state of civil society, Helena Monteiro (WINGS) highlights the five main features of an enabling environment for philanthropy, and the role philanthropy infrastructure support organizations play in helping to achieve them:

Once seen as a marginal player in international cooperation dialogue, in the 21st century philanthropy is acknowledged as playing a growing role. Philanthropy flows are increasing as a proportion of overall financial flows, and new forms of social investing combined with grant-making are attracting the interest of development agents. Philanthropy has much to contribute to development. By its nature, philanthropic giving is more independent, responsive, nimble and opportunistic than official development assistance.

After years of growth, global philanthropy is facing a worrisome trend as CSOs deal with increased control and undue restrictions on funding. In recent years, dozens of countries have adopted new laws and measures to hinder cross-border funding, often with the excuse of protecting security or preserving sovereignty. As a consequence, in order to transfer funds, grant-makers and the groups they seek to support are faced with new obstacles and additional administrative requirements.

Organisations that support philanthropy infrastructure play an important role in helping to achieve these conditions. They provide a necessary support system for amplifying the effectiveness of philanthropy, and are well placed to have a powerful effect on the underlying cultural conditions that surround philanthropy. In addition, philanthropy infrastructure organisations provide spaces for innovators to come together, enabling them to understand each other’s strategies, and to work together for mutual benefit. Such efforts need to be visible to others apart from the participants, otherwise the lessons cannot be spread and practice in the field cannot be changed as a result. Continue reading (PDF).

These 27 guest contributions commissioned by CIVICUS for the State of Civil Society Report 2015 focus on civil society resourcing. The guest inputs discuss a range of funding issues encountered by civil society organisations and activists, including official development assistance and other forms of support from governments, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility and non-financial resources.

Helena Monteiro is the Executive Director of WINGS. Download the full report from the WINGS Knowledge Center.

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