Investing in indigenous philanthropy in Pakistan

David Bonbright

Pakistan is a generous nation. Individual cash giving amounts to five times as much as foreign aid grants. Most of this goes to individuals in need and to religious organizations. Research carried out by the Initiative on Indigenous Philanthropy suggests there is considerable potential for channelling some of this money into long-term development, but there are obstacles in the way. Although Pakistanis are generous givers, they do not as yet have much confidence in NGOs. This is one of the problems a Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy could address.


The Steering Committee for the Initiative on Indigenous Philanthropy was established two years ago by a number of citizen leaders with backgrounds in business, government and NGOs, with initial encouragement (including funding for original research) and ongoing secretariat support from the Aga Khan Development Network. They had a hunch – correct as it turned out – that the level of indigenous giving in Pakistan was much greater than was generally recognized. Their interest was in the potential for channelling some of these resources to address the causes of poverty and underdevelopment rather than just the symptoms, and so beginning to make the shift from foreign aid dependency to self-reliance. But first they needed to ascertain the facts about giving in Pakistan.

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