Principles of Accountability for International Philanthropy

While philanthropy that crosses national borders has much in common with its domestic counterpart, it also differs in significant and challenging ways. Language differences, communication across vast distances, unfamiliar cultural values and perspectives, multiple legal systems, and disparate accounting practices are a few of the factors that distinguish international from local or national philanthropy and contribute to its complexity. Moreover, international philanthropy takes place against a complex backdrop of international politics, geo-power dynamics, government stipulations, and cultural and religious traditions, with a potentially greater degree of uncertainty and unpredictability. However, with the high level of need and the cross-border nature of many of the challenges the world faces today, there is also a greater sense of responsibility and a tremendous opportunity to make a difference with even modest contributions. In view of these challenges, how can independent funders ensure that their international philanthropy is carried out in an accountable and responsible manner?