The Future of Philanthropy part two: The rise in south-south and faith-based giving


James Alexander


In part one of my blog series on the Future of Philanthropy report I discussed the three interconnected drivers of change identified that will shape the evolution of philanthropy over the next decade. However, the programme also identified over 50 insights that will shape the future philanthropy

The rise in south-south giving
As prosperity in the emerging economies continues to develop, countries that in the past have been the recipients of giving are now creating their own philanthropists. For example, Africa has around 165,000 super-rich people collectively worth over $660 billion. They have initiated a western-style, formalised philanthropy network across the continent. Aliko Dangote, the Continent’s richest man, is taking the lead in encouraging Africa to help herself. He has already signed a pledge committing to give away a majority of his wealth to charitable causes.

Similarly, India is also experiencing exponential growth in philanthropic giving with funding from private individuals recording a six-fold increase in recent years. Funds contributed by individual philanthropists have been steadily rising, growing faster than funds from foreign sources and funds contributed through corporate social responsibility. There are still significant developmental barriers. Conservative estimates indicate that India will face a financial shortfall of approximately INR 533 lakh crore ($8.5 trillion) if it is to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

Many are working to address this – both in India  and beyond. Indeed, it was observed in our London workshop which was hosted by the British Asian    Trust and focused on the philanthropic role of the diaspora community, that as  the centre of wealth shifts both East and South, and the international development budgets of the West continue to decline, the rich Asian and African diaspora, many of whom have retained strong connections, are placing an increasing amount of their philanthropic endeavours on their homeland in order to help others benefit from the opportunities they were given. The growing availability of new technology platforms, an increasingly global workforce and the ability to more easily target and engage with potential donors, will all continue this trend.

Faith based giving
In addition to those with faith, religious charities attract significant donations from non-believers.  In an increasingly secular world one reason for this is that they offer a tried and tested route to philanthropic giving. For many, they can be relied on to ‘do good’. As we are currently living in a time of intense change many are keen to hang on to the steady standards they believe that religion offers which have been established over centuries.

Despite considerable changes in attitudes to philanthropy, faith-based donations are a major focus for much of the world. In the Middle East a recent survey suggested that around two-thirds of all giving is motivated by religion. In the Netherlands it is 40 per cent and the US 32 per cent. Indeed one of the reasons why Myanmar tops the 2017 CAF World Giving Index, an authorative annual data driven review of how and why people give in 139 countries, may well be because the widespread practice of Theravada Buddhism encourages it.   In terms of opportunity, for example, with Islamic philanthropy even a small fraction of current Zakat and Sadaqah – compulsory and discretionary almsgiving by Muslim donors which is estimated at between $250 billion to $1 trillion annually – applied in a coordinated manner could significantly contribute to global development and humanitarian aid requirements.

The challenge for the future is that increasing secularism in some countries alongside growing public distrust of different religious organisations means that it is increasingly difficult for some faith-based charities to remain effective. There are fears, particularly in the West, that in the future this prejudice may prevent them from playing a bigger societal role. This is certainly the case in the US where religious giving has experienced a steady decline, accounting for 50 per cent of donations in 1990 to 32 percent in 2016.

James Alexander is Director at Future Agenda. Look out for final part of James’ Future of Philanthropy series soon.

Tagged in: Next Philanthropy

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