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Global Philanthropy Update - October 2017

Happy October! Fall is full of international meetings, many relevant to American grantmakers working globally. This month, Council staff joined several critical conversations surrounding international development, global philanthropy, and increasing social impact. Across these gatherings, we're seeing growing momentum on how to best achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Council has been working on the SDGs since 2015. This week, Council President & CEO Vikki Spruill joined Patrick Fine, President of FHI 360, to discuss the role that philanthropy can play to help achieve the SDGs by 2030. During the podcast, Vikki discusses how U.S. philanthropy is evolving, the importance of tax policy on charitable giving, how different investment models can impact the SDGs, and more.

Recent Global Events

Social Good Summit Geneva: I joined 230 representatives from 50 countries at the 2nd Annual Social Good Summit Geneva, co-hosted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), to moderate a plenary discussion on how global philanthropy can achieve the SDGs. While in Europe, I also joined meetings with Alliance Magazine to explore diversity in philanthropy, served on an expert panel for a new global philanthropy report from the OECD, and attended the Rethinking Global Philanthropy event at the Geneva Graduate Institute, in which we discussed social development in Africa and the role philanthropy can play in more effectively driving social change.

Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP): Investors and entrepreneurs gathered in San Francisco in mid-October to discuss issues at the intersection of money and meaning at the Social Capital Market Conference. High on the agenda was a discussion about the The Rise Fund, which seeks to invest in agriculture and food, education, energy, financial services, health care, technology, and infrastructure to achieve the SDGs. Foundations were a large part of SOCAP, including a track of programming about racial equity sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation. Read more highlights from ImpactAlpha.

World Bank Annual Meetings: The Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) took place last week in Washington DC. Devex highlights 5 key takeaways from the Annual Meetings. The Annual Civil Society Policy Forum included discussions on topics such as education, climate change, public private partnerships, and sustainable development. The World Bank also held its Annual Foundations Advisory Council meeting last week, which focused on partnerships with philanthropy and the private sector in forced displacement settings.

Congratulations to icddr,b, recipient of the 2017 Hilton Humanitarian Prize this month!

NACF Summit- Travel Scholarships Available!

The Council opened applications for travel scholarships this month for the first-ever North American Community Foundations Summit (NACF) in Mexico City on February 5 and 6, 2018. The deadline for applications is October 27th. We will provide up to 10 scholarships for Council members to off-set the cost of airfare and accommodation for the Summit.

The summit, co-hosted with Comunalia in Mexico and Community Foundations of Canada, will explore how community foundations are tackling shared challenges and creating opportunities as they seek to improve quality of life for all and work to achieve the SDGs. Please visit the Summit website for more details and registration information. Hotel information is also available online. If you are interested in sponsoring the Summit, please contact me at

Global Liaisons Program

The Council welcomed partners from federal and multilateral organizations for the third meeting of our Global Liaisons Program on October 19th. Attendees shared how federal agencies and multilateral organizations are engaging philanthropy and designing innovative partnerships, especially in resource restricted environments. Several agencies are approaching philanthropic partnerships in new ways, whether via new partnership mechanisms, new public announcements of partnership opportunities, or new strategies for engagement. Look out for upcoming blog posts sharing partnership opportunities for global grantmakers with federal and multilateral agencies.

Cross-Border Philanthropy & Civil Society Updates

The Council continues to closely monitor changing regulations for nonprofits both here in the U.S and countries around the world. In the past month, we watched developments in several countries closely:

Kenya: Kenyans will return to the polls on October 26th, after the August 8th election results were overturned by Kenya’s Supreme Court. Civil society groups in Kenya are reporting increased challenges, particularly at the local level, and fearing further unrest following attempts during the lead up to the August election to deregister organizations, including the Kenya Human Rights Commission. Delayed implementation of the new Public Benefit Organization Law has also left civil society in “legal limbo” in Kenya.

Hungary: In early 2017, the European Commission notified Hungary that its new NGO law infringed on civil liberties. The European Commission sent another letter on September 18th that the new laws of registration go against the fundamental rights each country must uphold as a member of the European Union. Hungary, stating in August said it would review the new legislation, may face more harsh reactions from the European community if measures are not taken to revise the NGO law.

Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently announced plans to establish a parliamentary committee to investigate the funding Israeli NGOs receive from foreign governments. This aims to restrict Israeli NGOs receive funding from foreign countries for activities that include expressing criticism of IDF soldiers. This is the latest in a series of attempts by the government to check the involvement of foreign governments in internal politics. Last year, the government passed the controversial Transparency Bill, which dramatically increased transparency requirements for nearly two dozen Israeli NGOs, many considered left-wing.

New Resources

Here are a few recent publications relevant for international grantmakers:

  • Forces for Nature: A new publication from the Environmental Funders Network presents a collection of interviews with individuals supporting environmental issues with different approaches, offering important advice on effective philanthropy.
  • What does it mean to be a resilient funder: A recent Alliance Magazine article discusses what it means to be a resilient funder in light of changing political conditions and regulations for NGOs globally. The article draws from a 2017 report by Global Greengrants Fund and the Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF), exploring how funders are adapting to changes globally.
  • The Future of Disaster Philanthropy: Global Giving recently published a new white paper exploring the future of corporate disaster philanthropy in the age of climate change. The resource speaks to the private sector’s unique position and ability to apply agility, expertise, and resources for longer term solutions.
  • New open-source software for mobile money: As mobile banking systems become increasingly popular, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has partnered with fintech startups to develop a free, open-source banking code called "Mojaloop," which was released earlier this week. Inc recently published an article about the software which aims to increase interoperability between financial institutions and mobile payments platforms to reach the underbanked in the global south.

Reminder – Disaster Information

The Council continues to provide resources for funders responding to natural and manmade disasters in the US and around the world. In recent weeks we have created resource pages and co-hosted webinars as part of our disaster response, including:

Upcoming Council Events

CEO & Trustee Retreat: December 5-6, 2017. Miami, FL.

North American Community Foundations Summit: February 5-6, 2018, Mexico City.

Remember to keep checking our global program page and the global grantmaking resources for all the latest updates!