Diaspora philanthropy, giving effectively across borders and emerging trends in global philanthropy


Nicolas Makharashvili


Over the past few years diaspora giving has grown significantly stemming from the global mobility of talent and increasing wealth within diaspora communities globally. Simultaneously, philanthropic groups and community foundations in developing countries are increasing their efforts to promote local individual philanthropy and maintain ties with and fundraise from their diasporas as the internet is making it possible for dispersed communities to collaborate, organize and sustain ties across borders.

As part of Bolder Giving’s Global Givers Initiative, the aim of which is to advance philanthropic giving by promoting donor awareness and action in Southeastern Europe through donor storytelling (now expanding globally) we recently co-hosted a webinar with WINGS (Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support), centred around Diaspora Philanthropy: Strategies for giving effectively across borders and encouraging others to join you. Our speakers Burcu Mirza, board member of Turkish Philanthropy Funds, and Jenny Hodgson, executive director of Global Fund for Community Foundations, explored their reflections on how to overcome barriers to giving internationally, discussed trends in global philanthropy and alluded to effective giving strategies for diaspora members.

Here are four takeaways from the webinar:

  • Interest in fortifying local philanthropy and the emergence of multi-stakeholder, multi-donor, multi-owner philanthropic institutions worldwide

The past several years have witnessed an amplified interest in promoting philanthropy globally. Organizations involved in this emerging arena have grown rapidly and interest in individual donor engagement has been particularly growing, as evidenced by a growing demand for partnership with Bolder Giving on our Global Stories Initiative from various philanthropic groups in Eastern Europe, South East Asia and Latin America, and more. We have observed that many non-profit organizations, foundations, and various philanthropic groups are endeavouring to both fortify the non-profit infrastructure working on civil society promotion and build a culture of giving among the public.

Local community foundations in developing countries are increasingly stepping up as key players in international development through their multi-stakeholder, multi-donor and multi-owner models working on a range of community issues and, most importantly, utilizing local leadership accountability and building donor trust.

  • Utilizing the strength of established institutions when giving internationally

USbased institutional intermediaries, such as community foundations, that specialize in helping philanthropists fund non-profits or NGOs are simplifying overseas grantmaking. A growing number of intermediaries, whether they’re focused on specific diasporas, small grassroots grants, etc, offer global expertise and experience pooled with their comprehensive understanding of the legal process. They may be able to identify isolated local communities in dire need of support which you may never come across on your own since they develop grassroots, on-the-ground networks of partner agencies. ‘My idea of an intermediary is an institution with a lot of reach, professional management, the right stakeholders, and a systematic, thoughtful and methodical way of approaching grantmaking  . . . You need the strength of the institutions to carry your work forward to be impactful. You cannot do it alone!’ – says Burcu Mirza, who moves her entire international philanthropic giving through institutional intermediaries.

While some of these intermediaries charge an administrative fee for their services, ‘the value of institutions that can professionally manage charitable money, deploy resources, identify groups, get the money to them and provide other types of support cannot be underestimated’ – says Jenny Hodgson.

  • Barriers to local philanthropy promotion

The lack of trust in civil society and the NGO sector in general continues to be the biggest roadblock for groups working on local individual philanthropy promotion. Often it’s easier for groups to write a business proposal to an external funder than to walk down the street to some local business and explain why their work matters. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that individual philanthropy is non-existent; in fact, in most instances it is part of the cultural frame of communities around the world, but the difference is that it is driven by complex social and individual dynamics. So how do we change this? Community foundations may be a solution due to their above-mentioned multi-stakeholder approach, which gives way to local leadership and a sense of accountability and instils a sense of trust in donors.

  • Remittances are not charitable contributions but there may be a link

Remittances sent from diasporas to their families shouldn’t be confused with charitable contributions as those moneys are rarely spent on charitable activities. They’re part of everyday life but, surprisingly, there may be a link. According to a recent report on remittances and charitable donations in the UK: ‘Remittance giving and charitable donating are strongly related. Households that send or “remit” money overseas are more likely to make donations to domestic UK charities than the general UK population is: 42per cent among remitters, compared with 29per cent of households in the general population.’

To learn more about the Global Givers Project, please visit our website at http://www.globalgivers.org

Nicolas Makharashvili, is program director at Bolder Giving.

Comments (1)

Michael Norton

Thanks for this! So true about "utilizing the strength of established institutions when giving internationally." For years I've struggled to find, reach out, support and sustain relationships with the right international grantees all by myself to avoid administrative fees. You don't realize the value of intermediaries until you work with one. Keep up the good work!

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