Paula Johnson’s take on the Global Philanthropy Report

Paula Johnson updated

Paula Doherty Johnson is a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard’s Ash Center where she spearheads research on the growth, practice, and impact of global philanthropy and social investment. Paula lead the effort to develop the Global Philanthropy Report, a pioneering study that provides first-of-its-kind data on institutional philanthropic capital, trends, and innovations in countries throughout the world.

Paula shares some of her reflections of this new report below:

Why did you engage in this study?

In recent years there has been growing interest in philanthropy’s role in addressing challenges at both the national and global level.  But in many countries, for understandable reasons, there is limited knowledge of philanthropic resources, practices, and trends.  Our aim in undertaking this study was to develop a better understanding of philanthropic practices at the national, regional, and global levels; to illuminate philanthropic potential; and ultimately, to help increase the impact of philanthropy around the globe.

What surprised you about this study?

A couple of the findings that surprised us were:

  • The magnitude of the sector. Over 1.5 trillion in assets
  • The relative youth of the sector.  In a sample of 80K foundations, nearly three-quarters were established in the last 25 years.

What was it like collaborating on this with everyone?

Fantastic!  The national collaborators are the cornerstone of this study.  The collaborative design of the initiative and the contributions of national partners are what made the study possible.

Johnson also emphasized the importance of the funders at both the global and national level.  UBS, in particular, provided generous financial support and has shown a long-term commitment to supporting and encouraging the philanthropic sector.  The Ford Foundation also provided generous support at both the global and national level.  Also at the national level there was critical support from local funders including:  in Australia: Truby and Florence Williams Charitable Trust of Equity Trustees Limited; in Brazil: Santander, Instituto C&A, Instituto Unibanco, Fundação Telefônica Vivo; in Chile: Fundación Reinaldo Solari, Fundación San Carlos de Maipo, Fundación Chile + Hoy; in Colombia: Office of Outreach and Partnerships, InterAmerican Development Bank; in Mexico: Ford Foundation, W.W. Kellogg Foundation; in Peru: BCP Banca Privada, Ford Foundation; in India: United States Agency for International Development; in Ireland: Trinity Business School, Centre for Social Innovation; in Saudi Arabia: King Khalid Foundation and in the United Arab Emirates: Emirates Leadership Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School.

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