By Lucy Bernholz Digital data and infrastructure have created new possibilities for nonprofits to serve their communities, and for individuals and institutions to give to civil society. It has allowed for new ways to use social networks, mobilise more people and serve them better. But digital data–essentially anything that can be digitised: numbers, stories,…
Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UNDP Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, marked the 2015 International Day of Democracy with his thoughts on a “Space for Civil Society”, this year’s theme, reaffirming UNDP’s commitment to supporting free and vibrant civic spaces.
The topic of this year’s World Bicycle Forum, “Cities for All”, placed the bicycle as a social transformation tool and a solution to deep issues like inequality, urban mobility and gender. Celebrated annually, the forum is the largest global event promoting the bicycle in all its forms, and completely organized by civil society for citizens.
“Merely a month ago Brazil was in the spotlight as the host of the World Cup and in two years time the South American country will organise the Olympic Games. Important signs of the strong economic growth that Brazil has managed to maintain over the last decade. However, poverty is still rife in the country. To some it is therefore incomprehensible that the country spends billions of dollars on the preparation of these events while at the same time there are still so many people living below the poverty line. What role can local fundraising and claim-making play in the fight against poverty? Are Brazilians willing to share their newly gained wealth?” Article by Siri Lijfering.
“To bring about radical political change, we need to build from below. We need to help communities organise and drive change. We need more Arab Springs, but we need them to endure. Organised civil society must prioritise meeting the challenge of how we can build upon these sudden upsurges of social energy without suffocating them.” Article by Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah.
“The world has become less peaceful each year since 2008 according to 2014’s Global Peace Index (GPI). Ukraine, South Sudan and Egypt are among countries who have had a dramatic fall in the rankings while Qatar is one of the most likely places to see a drop in peace in the coming years.” Article by George Arnett.
“Civil society is the vehicle by which citizens can represent themselves, either by forming organisations, participating in campaigns, donating money or volunteering. It offers an opportunity for grass-roots movements to grow and provides a constructive channel for social tensions to be turned into reasoned and targeted dialogue with government. The leaders in Egypt have repeatedly failed to recognise that the campaigning of not-for-profits plays an important role as a pressure gauge that can release dissent in a manageable way.” Article by Adam Pickering.
“How will this economy of the future function when millions of people can make and share goods and services nearly free? The answer lies in the civil society, which consists of nonprofit organizations that attend to the things in life we make and share as a community.” Article by Jeremy Rifkin.
In joining the push for meaningful Sustainable Development Goals, foundations need to prepare for a long-term give-and-take approach. In her latest for Stanford Social Innovation Review, Heather Grady (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors) points to challenges for collaboration on global development goals, adding that now is the time for interested parties to join the fold. “If you want to try new approaches to collaboration on the Sustainable Development Goals and put diffuse reciprocity in action by putting some skin in the game, get in touch as our circle widens.”
Karolina Mzyk (UNDP) shares why philanthropy, specifically a global network like WINGS, plays a valuable role in facilitating cross-sector partnerships by engaging government, international bodies and other key players. “Philanthropy can be a powerful force in international development.” WINGS and UNDP will jointly host a webinar in August as a followup to the Istanbul meeting.
For two time Olympian Ian Bird (Community Foundations of Canada) and Paul Melia (True Sport Foundation), sport is a platform for action that transcends cultural barriers. “Like most cultures, sport is an important part of Canadian identity. So too is giving and sharing—our roots in philanthropy.”
In May, the IHRFG brought together in Rio a diverse group of people to talk about how emerging economies affect giving, specifically for human rights and social justice. “Initiatives like the IHRFG’s to bring these players together and discuss possibilities can help shape a future marked by growing local philanthropy and global partnerships.” WINGS’ Ana Borges Pinho reports.
The underlying theme of the Takaful 2014 conference held in Lebanon in June dealt with the interaction between scholarly analysis and lived experiences, with the aim of contributing to sound policy and practice in philanthropy and civic engagement in the Arab world.