International funding presents vast, multifaceted problems that require almost unlimited resources if they are to be solved. Most foundations have relatively limited resources – how do they ensure they are adding value? How do they remain focused when the problems communities face are so interrelated? What role can smaller foundations play? These are the basic questions addressed by the various contributors to this issue’s special feature on global philanthropy.
Guest editors Peter Laugharn, Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, and Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of CIVICUS, each offer funders six things to think about if they want their funding to be more effective. Agnès Binagwaho, head of the Rwandan national AIDS programme, insists that foundations must align their activities with national efforts, while Peter Piot of UNAIDS stresses their role as ‘thought leaders’. Luc Tayart de Borms argues that donors’ exclusive reliance on civil society to achieve their goals may do more harm than good, while Andrés Thompson looks at the dilemmas facing foundation programmes that develop human capital but leave people jobless.
Other articles in the special feature look at a new study of UK foundations that fund overseas to the tune of less than £1 million a year and the recently published Principles of Accountability for International Philanthropy. Finally, a panel of bilateral funders talk about how they see the role of foundations in international development.
Also in this issue of Alliance, Nnimmo Bassey questions the value of the new Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, while Jo Andrews reflects on Great Philanthropic Mistakes.