Peace and Security

Interview with He Daofeng, winner of the Olga Alexeeva Memorial Prize

Alliance Magazine - 19 hours 19 sec ago

He Daofeng

The winner of the Olga Alexeeva Memorial Prize was announced on 27 March at WINGSForum in Istanbul. After the announcement, He Daofeng, who is executive president of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) and chair of the China Foundation Center, talked to Caroline Hartnell about philanthropy in China and his own role in its development. Below is the transcript of the interview.

Could you very briefly describe the state of philanthropy in China today? How many genuinely independent foundations are there (as opposed to GONGOs)? Are these mainly corporate foundations or foundations formed by wealthy individuals and their families?

Chinese philanthropy is too complex to describe briefly. There are more than 240,000 registered NGOs including GONGOs (government-organized NGOs) and independent NGOs, plus over 200,000 NPOs, which are involved in various kinds of philanthropic activities.[1]

According to China Foundation Center data, there are 3,700 registered foundations in the country. Among them, 1,400 are independent, and the other 2,300 are GONGOs. Among 1,400 independent foundations, more than 400 are formed by companies, and 900 are formed by celebrities such as famous artists and scholars. Less than 100 are formed by wealthy individuals and families.

How much giving to charitable causes is there among ordinary Chinese people?

In 2013, 3,700 foundations raised a total donation of RMB 35 billion (US$ 5.8 billion). Among them, ordinary individuals contributed RMB 7 billion, accounting for 20% of total donations.

What do you see as the main barriers to the expansion of private philanthropy in China?

I think the barriers are very complicated.

First, selfishness and ideology driven by market economic mechanisms.

Second, lack of religious faith and shared values in society after the huge shocks of the Cultural Revolution and market economic mechanism, influenced by an ideological tide of materialism and money worship.

Third, GONGOs’ bad reputation. This includes poor programmes missing targets for the needy, poor management, a bureaucratic, top-down work style, lack of information on beneficiaries, lack of transparency, lack of independent evaluation and monitoring on effective use of charitable resources, etc.

Fourth, there are not enough good independent NGOs with a good reputation that can mobilize more social resources and deliver more services with effective social interactions with people.

I understand that the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, of which you are executive president, is the first GONGO to be transformed into a fully independent foundation. You say in your interview in the Alliance supplement that this was very difficult because you were breaking new ground: ‘If I didn’t tread carefully, I felt it would incur the hostility of many parties, provoke a crisis for the whole sector, and maybe even put us in physical danger.’ Can you tell us about the difficulties you faced and how you overcame them?

The system called the ‘iron rice bowl’ protects people with official identity from any kind of management pressure. This means that nobody, including CEOs of GONGOs, has the right to fire anybody who has a formal official identity except for criminal activity. Therefore people’s relationships are frozen. You cannot let inefficient people leave and get intelligent people in.

In such a system, how can you upgrade the organization’s performance? I transformed the foundation by introducing market rules into the system, including employment. You can imagine that the people who lost their ‘iron rice bowl’ protection hated me and even wanted to kill me. The other 99.9% of GONGOS saw this as rebellion. So I felt lonely and under great social pressure for a long time under such circumstances. In overcoming the barriers, certain things helped me, including: my deep faith in the social reform of China; persuading the government to sign a contract with me to protect me; doing my best to do everything as a true volunteer, and not getting any payment from the foundation; not speaking to the mass media.

Barry Gaberman embraces He Daofeng after announcing the winner

You talk in your Alliance interview about deciding as a young man to focus on ‘promoting philanthropy and cultivating social self-governance, the civil society spirit and citizen obligation’. How revolutionary is this approach in China?

Looking at the experience of modernization in East Asia countries such as Japan, Taiwan (of China) and South Korea, fostering of social self-governance organizations and civil society must follow transformation of the economic structure. China is at the turning point of civil society transformation now (namely the urbanization rate is over 50%). More and more people feel unhappy when simply making more money instead of helping others by means of social self-governance organizations. The new generation begin to seek for significant meaning in life. So citizen participation and civil society development is inevitable. Some things are happening now. A new social self-governance movement has been developing in China in recent years.

The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation works across borders, in Africa, Indonesia, Kenya and Cambodia? Can you tell us a bit about this? How many Chinese foundations support causes outside China?

CFPA has been providing cross-border aid to vulnerable groups and communities since 2005, including aid to victims of the tsunami in Indonesia, earthquakes in Pakistan and Haiti, the typhoon in Myanmar, hunger in Horn of Africa, building a hospital in Sudan, providing ambulances to Guinea-Bissau, a school feeding programme in Cambodia, etc. The total aid is about $15 million. So far, about 50 foundations are involved in overseas aid to varying degrees, and CFPA is the earliest and the best.

What have you done to encourage the practice of philanthropy both among high net worth individuals and among more modest givers?

I have established two fundraising departments in CFPA since 2006: one targets wealthy individuals and companies in different industries, and the other one targets modest givers. For different targets, we use different methodologies.

Can you tell us about the work of the China Foundation Center, and in particular the Self-Regulation Alliance for Chinese Foundations, in addressing issues of lack of transparency and lack of trust in foundations and NGOs in China and in promoting collaboration and greater democratic self-governance among Chinese foundations.

A huge movement for public accountability by GONGOs has been taking place since 2011 when total giving decreased by almost 50% all over the country. The China Foundation Center persists in requesting all registered foundations to make a pledge and commitment to open their operating information to the public. At the first level, the China Foundation Center presents the basic information automatically collected from the government’s legal registration department for each registered foundation on its website. At the second level, the China Foundation Center asks every foundation to disclose its financial and audit report. If anyone refuses, its window on the website will be kept empty. On the third level, the China Foundation Center asks for open information on programmes, donors and management and so on for its website.

More open information brings more transparency and higher public reputation. In accordance with the collected information, we can do some ranking, comparative study and research, and leadership training by means of mass media, to push China’s philanthropy sector to be transparent. Based on this platform, we can call on some foundations which value their public reputation to collaborate as the Self-Regulation Alliance for Chinese Foundations

You have also been instrumental in bringing a group of experts to help the provincial government of Yunnan to develop its first local charity law and in promoting media coverage of philanthropy. Taken all together, your work has done a great deal to help to make philanthropy into a more integral part of life in China. What is needed now to modernize philanthropy in China?

China’s new generation leaders have been firmly determined to deepen reform of the economic system and social restructuring, but power struggles among ministers have always been barriers to deepening reform at every turning point since 1978. Therefore reform pioneers have always sought cooperation with provincial government to break down barriers as a kind of response to the top leaders in the central government. This has always been the political wisdom of reform in China.

So I made use of this kind of political wisdom in Yunnan province to respond to President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang’s social sector reform policy. It means that the Yunnan Provincial Government will withdraw from the role of collecting and being the recipient of donations, and will encourage social donation giving to equal NGOS instead of to local government by issuing new legislation.

For modernization of philanthropy and civil society in China, we need to deepen reform as follows:

  • All levels of government must withdraw from the role of collecting and receiving donations.
  • Reform all official organizations including universities, hospitals and all kinds of industrial associations and turn them into NPOs.
  • Transform all GONGOs into independent NGOs.
  • Develop a legal system to maintain a fully competitive and enabling policy environment, so that more efficient NPOS and NGOs can grow up and drive the least efficient ones out of the charitable sector.
  • Develop an ecosystem and value chain in the philanthropy sector including training, research, evaluation, audit and accountability.

So we have a long way to go. We must go the way of striving for social civilization upgrading and for changing of the generations, building a modern civil society at this turning point of modernization of China. We must stand for the deepening reform of China’s rigid social mechanism.

That will be China’ responsibility for the world; that will be every single Chinese citizen’s responsibility for our nation; that will be every excellent Chinese NGO’s responsibility for mankind. Those jobs are worth our sacrifice for generations!!! Philanthropy is without borders of nation.

Do you have any plan for the prize money?

I have never thought about applying for any kind of reward or thought that what I do is worth any kind of reward. Today I am here surprised at what has happened right now. I don’t know what to say at this moment. I do not think what I have done is as good as your prize committee has judged. I am only one common person among thousands of contributors in the philanthropy sector. I just do some little things that I ought to do following my heart.

Therefore I think that the prize is not for me; it is for everybody who wants and tries to do something to help someone or to change our painful world. The prize is just to encourage me, my colleagues and everybody in this field to learn from Olga, to adopt the spiritual heritage Olga left us, to contribute more, and to do our best for world peace, goodness, honesty, beauty and all philanthropy. So I will represent your love by donating the prize money to the Hungry Children Program of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation. Thanks again!

1 NGOs (non-governmental organizations), also known as civil society organizations, are created by legal persons that are not part of the government. NPOs (non-profit organizations), also known as endowments or foundations, aim to raise substantial funds to use for the organization’s purposes, eg public arts organizations, trade unions and charitable organizations.

Caroline Hartnell, is editor of Alliance magazine.

Latest from Alliance is the blog of Alliance, the leading magazine for philanthropy and social investment worldwide. Subscribe to Alliance magazine here.

Categories: Peace and Security

Philanthropy’s two cents: how some foundations are contributing to development policy dialogue

Alliance Magazine - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 02:00

David Crook

Today in Mexico City, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation holds its first ministerial meeting. The ministers, bilateral donors, multilateral agencies, NGO leaders, private sector peak bodies and foundations in attendance expect an event billed as the space to institutionalize effective development cooperation at the global level.

Though much of the attention has rightly focused on more and better inclusion of civil society in development governance and cooperation moving forward, foundations’ contribution to the global cooperation project will be introduced in the form of the Guidelines for Effective Philanthropic Engagement.

Led by the global Network of Foundations Working for Development (netFWD; housed in the OECD) and with the support of WINGS, EFC, Rockefeller Foundation, myself and colleagues at Stars, the Guidelines are meant to act as a bridge across the collaboration divide separating foundations and governments in particular.

Under three broad headlines – Dialogue; Data/Knowledge Sharing; Partnering – the Guidelines offer an early blueprint for foundations with an appetite to collaborate to engage with governments in a meaningful way.

Read the Guidelines here.

Read an early blog on the relevance of the Guidelines here.

The Guidelines have undergone wide consultations, including an intimate ‘focus group’ discussion held by Stars under Chatham House rules to receive feedback and gain greater insight into the ‘collaboration aspirations’ of UK foundations that support international development.

Participants’ reactions broadly fell under four critical questions to the Guidelines’ authors. The more salient, provocative and representative responses follow.

Who are the Guidelines speaking to?

  • Who is ‘we’? All foundations? A coalition of the willing?
  • Who is this for? It feels very government-driven, and our relationships are rarely with governments, they are with civil society.
  • Development is about people. If we want these Guidelines to win hearts and minds, they need to answer what the impact will be on people, not just talk about governments.

What do UK foundations think of the Guidelines themselves?

  • It’s right to recognize foundations as ‘independent’ and to list our comparative advantages in development.
  • The Guidelines could be divided into ‘what would improve our practice as foundations’ and ‘how better to engage with governments’. The latter ‘might not be for everyone’.
  • They’re generally constructive, and nothing feels that controversial. But nothing feels really exciting either.

Why is a set of cooperation guidelines necessary for the sector?

  • If foundations are going to be more effective development actors, we need to do some things better. Cooperation is one of them, and this document provides a route to cooperation that resonates with and reinforces our own mission.
  • It’s important for development actors to understand the roles of others, but the degree to which it results in ‘rather prescriptive guidelines’ is unclear.
  • From the point of view of a very small trust, ‘the Guidelines are great’; we could first use them to reflect on our own practice, and they might help us to think about working with other networks and coalitions to achieve our aims.
  • Our sector should not be dictated to; we are the only free-will, experimental thing that still exists in international development, and it needs to stay that way.
  • There is a leap of faith here: we can choose to see this as a tool to constrain or limit our sector, or as a way to help us amplify our impact.
  • This isn’t about us being ‘Liza Minelli in the Oscars selfie’; we’re making a proposal about how we could work with governments, but we should make it clear that governments will be expected to do things differently as well.
  • These Guidelines make it easier for inclined foundations to find each other, and for inclined governments to find those foundations interested in collaboration.

How would the Guidelines be implemented?

  • Foundations may simply not have the time, capacity or budget to invest in ‘living’ all of the Guidelines.
  • It will be a challenge to get foundations to ‘walk the talk’, without undermining the energy and dynamism of the sector.
  • This feels like a ‘nudge’ in the right direction, buy my fear is, in practice we’ll be brought into the bureaucracy – in-country meetings between governments and foundations every few months.
  • If this could result in greater enabling environments for civil society organizations, that’s great, but I’m less clear how that would really happen.
  • This effort could move towards a set of indicators so foundations can identify where they stand and where their collaboration aspirations lie.
  • Perhaps the way forward is for philanthropy to have its own sector guidelines, before we bring in other actors?
  • If the only thing that comes out of this is greater collaboration between foundations, then that would be useful in its own right.

The Guidelines have since been refined, and will be formally recognized at the GPEDC meeting this week.

With this political legitimacy, advocates and allies of the Guidelines will be expected to move to a more practical discussion, building momentum towards field-level ‘country pilots’. This will be the real test; whether the Guidelines will be orphaned once they are pushed out into the world, or whether foundations writ large and governments will recognize enough of themselves and their aspirations in the document to actively embrace them.

David Crook, is development director at Stars Foundation.

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Categories: Peace and Security

New cross-sector collaborations to address global problems

Alliance Magazine - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 07:00

Alliance magazine

A new cross-sector partnership, US Global Development Lab, aims to end extreme poverty by 2030 by adopting a science-and-technology-based approach to international development. The partnership, led by USAID, draws in just about every other sector, involving corporations, foundations, universities and non-profit organizations. It will work on solutions to challenges in water, health, food security and nutrition, energy, education and climate change; according to a press release, it will benefit 200 million people over the next five years.

USAID has also announced a new Research and Innovation Fellowships programme which, this year, will send more than 60 young scientists, technology experts and innovators to work on development challenges at universities, research institutions, non-governmental organizations, and private-sector companies in 12 developing countries. Partners include the Bill & Melinda Gates and Skoll Foundations, Save the Children, World Vision, the Smithsonian Institution, University of California, Berkeley and Duke, Johns Hopkins, Michigan State and Texas A&M Universities.

Meanwhile an existing partnership, Uniting to Combat NTDs, spearheaded by the Gates Foundation and also involving USAID, the UK’s DFID and foundations, global health organizations and pharmaceutical companies, has pledged a further $240 million to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The commitments include $50 million from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) to provide technical assistance to national deworming programmes and $50 million from the Gates Foundation to explore the feasibility of interrupting transmission and mitigating the risks of drug resistance. At the same time, Dubai Cares will design programmes to integrate nutrition, deworming, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions in schools, while WaterAid will deliver WASH programmes in NTD-endemic areas. ‘We’re taking the “neglect” out of neglected tropical diseases, thanks to the commitment of partners from across the public and private sectors,’ said Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates in a new report on the group’s progress, adding, ‘If we stay focused, we can reach the London Declaration’s 2020 goals and help provide millions with access to health.’

Bill Gates again – this time signing a memorandum of understanding with eight Indonesian business leaders to establish a public-private partnership that will fight infectious diseases and work to expand access to family planning services in the Indonesian archipelago. Gates will contribute $40 million and the eight local business leaders $8 million each to the Indonesia Health Fund to tackle dengue fever, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the country and to expand access to contraception.

For more information

“U.S. Agency for International Development and 32 Partner Organizations Launch U.S. Global Development Lab to Help End Extreme Poverty by 2030.” US Agency for International Development Press Release, 3 April 2014.

“Global Partners Are Taking the ‘Neglect’ Out of ‘Neglected Tropical Diseases’.” Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases Press Release, 2 April 2014.

“Gates, Conglomerates Sign MOU on Philanthropy.” Jakarta Post, 6 April 2014.

Latest from Alliance is the blog of Alliance, the leading magazine for philanthropy and social investment worldwide. Subscribe to Alliance magazine here.

Categories: Peace and Security

WINGSForum 2014: Building Connected Global Philanthropy

Alliance Magazine - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 01:42

Paula Jansco Fabiani

WINGSForum 2014, held in Istanbul 27-29 March, was a great event to connect and reconnect people and to bring together information that is relevant to maximize the effectiveness of grantmaking. Its title, aptly, was ‘The Power of Networks: Building Connected Global Philanthropy’. In this positive environment representatives from 42 countries shared similarities and differences to potentially enhance philanthropy around the world.

‘It has never been easier and cheaper to establish networks,’ said Danny Sriskandarajah from CIVICUS. But how we nurture a network and keep it alive and useful and how we measure its effectiveness are key challenges. WINGSForum intensely pursued the proposed role of ‘building connected global philanthropy’ highlighted in the Forum subtitle. Debates focused on the importance of data, the legal environment and the role of associations. 40% of the participants (there were interesting instant surveys during the Forum) declared that the legal environment poses restrictions to the development of philanthropy in their country.

Brad Smith from the Foundation Center (US) made a creative comparison between foundations and vampires: ‘without data they cannot see themselves in the mirror.’ However, funding data collection is still a difficult task since most philanthropic organizations do not have funds for this; grantmaking goes to causes like education, health, etc.

In fact, data can help funders see the value of infrastructure. WINGS presented an interesting report, Infrastructure in Focus: A global picture of organizations serving philanthropy, which is worth taking a look at. The report maps the benefits of infrastructure, calling them the 4 Cs: connection, capability, capacity and credit.

Sector trends were broadly discussed, and points made included:
•    Innovation will come from emerging economies.
•    Philanthropy should work to mitigate the negative effects of globalization.
•    The new generation of HNWIs focus on making money allied with social impact.
•    The increasing complexity of social problems.
•    The importance of responsiveness of grantmaking to civil society to promote social change.
•    The role and potential of technology.

The concurrent sessions, thematic lunch tables and breakfast sessions resulted from a selection from over 50 sessions proposed by WINGS members. The post-2015 UN agenda and the Sustainable Millennium Goals (SMG) were mentioned in more than one session, reinforcing the debate about inclusion of philanthropic organizations around this theme. New concepts like Philanthropication thru Privatization (PtP) and old but relevant topics like strategies for collaborating with development stakeholders, cross-border grantmaking and talent management also enlightened participants, among many others. Grantmaker associations and support organizations, which represent 32% of those attending the Forum, gathered to debate best practices, sharing of information and data needs.

I would like to highlight two memorable events on the agenda: the Olga Alexeeva Memorial Prize, which went to He Daofeng from the China Foundation Center, putting China on the philanthropic map as an important player; and the humorous and thoughtful trial of associations. The trial was really bold and presented with an insightful mindset the role of associations for the future. Associations were considered not guilty regardless of the good job made by the prosecution, represented by Christopher Harris, a well-known personality in the sector. And a nice picture of the participants, a crowd of philanthropy activists, was taken at the end of the Forum. It is also worth looking at it – you will certainly find someone you know!

Paula Jansco Fabiani, is the executive director of IDIS – Institute for the Development of Social Investment – in Brazil.

Latest from Alliance is the blog of Alliance, the leading magazine for philanthropy and social investment worldwide. Subscribe to Alliance magazine here.

Categories: Peace and Security

New Report: Charity and Philanthropy in Russia, China, India and Brazil

Alliance Magazine - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 06:00
This article was originally published on the WINGS blog, Philanthropy In Focus, on 14 March 2014. The original article can be found here.

One of the most significant international developments since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 has been the growing economic power of the so-called BRICs — Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Dismissed in the 1970s by many as economic basket cases, the four countries, which account for over a quarter of the globe’s land mass and more than 40 percent of its population, have, in the quarter-century since that momentous event, opened their economies to the world and emerged as dominant global suppliers of manufactured goods and services (China and India), and raw materials (Brazil and Russia).

The startling surge of economic activity in each of the four countries over the last twenty years has been accompanied by an explosion of wealth, which in turn has led to the emergence, in all four countries, of organized philanthropic activity and what those of us who cover philanthropy would call an infrastructure to support it.

Indeed, that activity is the subject of a new report just released by the Foundation Center, in collaboration with WINGS (Worldwide Initiative for Grantmaker Support), a global network of grantmaker associations and philanthropic support organizations. Authored by Joan E. Spero, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (and the first president of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation), the report, Charity and Philanthropy in Russia, China, India, and Brazil identifies some of the cultural, economic, social, and political forces that are shaping giving in the BRICs and examines the growth and nature of foundations and the philanthropic sector in each of the four countries.

Because the charitable sector in each of the four countries is new and not well organized, the data on charitable activity in each country is limited and difficult to compare. Nevertheless, there are common characteristics and issues that emerge from a comparison of giving in these countries. For example, the report looks at the traditional cultural and religious origins of charity/philanthropy in the four countries, including the Jewish concept of “tzedakah” (or righteousness), which has influenced a small but important part of contemporary Russian philanthropy; the concept of “zakat,” one of the five pillars of Islam, which has shaped giving in the Arab countries and on the Indian subcontinent; and the concept of “dana,” which is embraced by Hindus and Buddhists and has also influenced the small but important Parsi or Zoroastrian community of India.

The report also examines the process of economic liberalization in the four countries (a process, as Spero writes, that “has been accompanied by the growth of the middle class and the accumulation of vast fortunes by a new, wealthy business class, often linked to the global economy”); considers the increasingly worrisome issue of inequality, which has increased in China, India, and Russia over the last twenty years and remains very high in Brazil, where it has always been a feature of the economic landscape; and looks at external influences, including philanthropic support from foundations like Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie, MacArthur, Mott, and Open Society in the U.S., the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Germany, and the British Charities Aid Foundation.

Here are a few other takeaways from the report:

  • The amount of giving and the formation of organized charitable entities have increased significantly across the four countries; and there is a growing structure to philanthropy as a sector in each of the countries.
  • Grantmaking remains directed primarily to traditional charitable causes, including disaster relief, helping the poor, providing health and other services, and sports, culture, and the arts.
  • When talking about charity and philanthropy in the BRICs, it is difficult to separate personal, family, and corporate philanthropy.
  • While the countries in the study vary greatly in terms of their political culture, civil society, political system, and resulting legal and regulatory regimes, their third sectors share a common characteristic: they still lack legitimacy, resources, management expertise, transparency, and clear legal status.
  • Given the weakness of civil society organizations in the BRIC countries, donors are hesitant to use them as vehicles for grantmaking and often prefer to create their own organizations to carry out their charitable purposes.
  • Despite economic growth, the public sector in many BRIC countries lacks the financial resources and institutional capacity to respond effectively to growing social awareness, needs, and demands.
  • The legacy of inefficient bureaucracies and state-owned enterprises makes governments more willing to accept private financial support for the social needs of citizens, while remaining wary of yielding power to private foundations and civil society.

At the same time, the report is not shy about identifying challenges for philanthropy in each of (and across) the four countries, as well as offering solutions and/or possible courses of action. Among other things, it calls on foundations to do what they can to support improvements in the political environment for philanthropy, including legal, regulatory, and tax reform, and stresses the importance, in each country, of  “a trusting yet independent relationship with political and bureaucratic leadership at various levels.”  It suggests that foundations in BRIC countries to be more open and transparent about their activities and the entities and causes they support. And it urges foundations in each country to work on and improve their own organizational and management structures.

The report does not say that any of these things will be easy to achieve, or that evolving political systems, corruption, and growing inequality will not be factors in the future shape and effectiveness of philanthropic and civil society organizations in these countries. But Spero and her colleagues at the Foundation Center and WINGS do agree on one thing: that the report itself is a first step in building “greater awareness and understanding of both the diversity and challenges faced by philanthropy in emerging economies.”

We hope you agree and will join the Foundation Center and WINGS in a broader conversation about the development of better systems for documenting and sharing the story of philanthropy in all its forms around the world. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing posts from philanthropy professionals on the ground in each of the four countries with the goal of sparking that conversation.

You can download a copy here>

Mitch Nauffts, is publisher/editorial director of Philanthropy News Digest. PND is a service of the Foundation Center.

Latest from Alliance is the blog of Alliance, the leading magazine for philanthropy and social investment worldwide. Subscribe to Alliance magazine here.

Categories: Peace and Security

Interview with Robert Rubinstein, founder of TBLI

Alliance Magazine - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 02:00

Robert Rubinstein

In trying to get the business community to participate in an economy which takes into account people and the environment, not just profit, Robert Rubinstein, founder of  TBLI (Triple Bottom Line Investing), doesn’t put his faith in the sector’s idealism but in investors’ greed and the ability to inflict ‘excruciating pain’ on business. He explains to Caroline Hartnell how and why this works. He is optimistic about more money flowing into impact investing, as defined by TBLI, but not that hopeful that it will be in time for climate change mitigation. ‘Get your wellies out,’ he advises.

You founded TBLI in 1998. What did you hope to achieve?
I wanted to create an economy based on well-being by engaging with the business sector. I realized that to do that, the business sector has to buy into it, and they will only buy into it if they feel excruciating pain. I concluded they had three pain buttons: finance, personnel and reputation.

First, I looked at personnel. I tried teaching MBA students about sustainable finance, but most of the students were only worried about defaulting on their student loans. They didn’t follow their hearts and went to work for companies that didn’t share their values.

So then I looked at finance. I decided to focus on the financial sector. I worked out that the top hundred or so owners or managers in 1998 had direct or indirect control of 30-40 per cent of the money. So I hit on the idea of trying to convince those hundred CIOs [chief investment officers] through a conference. It sounds rather naive but it does work: if you show the financial sector over and over again the self-interest, opportunity and money flows in sustainable business, it’s not hard to change behaviour.

The hard part is access. I call it the Shawshank Redemption approach – that’s the prison movie where, after 15 years of chipping away at a wall, the guy broke through but no one knew about it. That’s what this work is, it’s chipping away over and over again, there’s no big ribbon-cutting ceremony. We’ve seen massive money flows and very large deals done at the TBLI Conference, so I know we’ve had an influence on the behaviour of the financial sector, and now I would like to scale up dramatically.

Continue reading here (£) >

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Categories: Peace and Security

In search of digital civil society around the world

Alliance Magazine - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 02:00
I recently had the opportunity to discuss the role of digital data and my ideas about digital civil society in Beijing, China and São Paolo, Brazil. Some reflections:

Beijing – the day before this photo was taken I joined Maria Rendon, of USAID and Bin Pei of the Gates Foundation at an event hosted by the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. We were there to talk about data and digital civil society. (It took place on the other side of the wall in the photo – other than location there is no connection to Mrs. Obama). We drew attention to the many ways digital data are becoming part of the emergent nongovernmental sector in China. We heard from the China Foundation Center about its plans to open up the data it collects (all of which is digital). The level of registration and oversight for NGOs in China creates a robust digital trail of information, allowing for much more robust data gathering on civil society than is possible in other parts of the world.

Brazil – 25 hours of flying and half a world away I found myself at the GIFE Conference in São Paolo. Brazil has a disbursed, diverse, fragmented economy of civil organizations – from global NGOs to political activist networks. Brazil is home to a vital, vibrant, messy and confusing social economy – it’s a great place to think about what it would take to map such a space, and all the different implications of that economy as it goes digital. Here are the slides I used to get us started:

Inventing dig civ soc brazil 031914 from Lucy Bernholz

Registration and oversight of these organizations or networks is very different from that in China – and I repeatedly heard funders, nonprofit leaders, financiers, and scholars bemoan the lack of comparable data about the sector. There is a working group of leaders from the sector that wants to remedy this situation, possibly by developing a Brazilian “Blueprint” such as the one I write every year. This is very exciting and I hope it comes to pass.

Here’s the deck of “working examples” I used to jumpstart a conversation on how we are using  digital data to create new forms of civil society. Note – these are deliberately scattershot, I was trying for a wide range of data types, tools and uses. Turning these working examples into a typology or framework will require many more examples and some more time. I welcome your input:

Data examples and dcs gife 2014 from Lucy Bernholz

In both Brazil and China I had the chance to tout the state of digital data on civil society in Canada. The country collects data on foundations and nonprofits electronically, makes it open and machine readable in useful time frames, allowing companies such as to use those data feeds to produce search tools that are really useful and collective efforts such as PoweredByData* that provide models for the rest of us.

I didn’t really get to travel the globe looking for digital civil society (but I’d love to if anyone wants to foot the bill or host me). We need a global conversation about data, social change, and digital civil society – including examples, challenges, new norms, and opportunities from all over the world. The Markets For Good platform and Feedback Labs are two places these conversations can be catalyzed and captured – do you know of others? I have been in touch with folks at Betterplace Labs in Berlin – and they DID go around the globe as part of their Lab Around the World Tour. I’m looking forward to learning more about what they learned and helping share it more broadly. Stay tuned.

*I am an unpaid independent advisor to this effort.

Lucy Bernholz,  is a visiting scholar at Stanford University, where she co-leads the Digital Civil Society Lab, and at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. She writes about all things digitally philanthropic at

This article was originally published on the Philanthropy 2173, on 04 April 2014. The original article can be found here>





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Latest from Alliance is the blog of Alliance, the leading magazine for philanthropy and social investment worldwide. Subscribe to Alliance magazine here.

Categories: Peace and Security

South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name

Refocusing international engagement as well as the peace negotiations is essential to stop South Sudan’s raging civil war from claiming ever more lives.

Now free to read! Interview with Jessan Hutchison-Quillian

Alliance Magazine - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 02:00

Jessan Hutchison-Quillian

‘I have become a volunteer leader, organizing other young people with wealth to to do great things with their giving. I never imagined myself being this type of leader … I’m an engineer!

Jessan Hutchison-Quillian was brought up in Seattle. In 2007, after graduating as a computer scientist at the age of 20, he went to work for Google. Realizing that his salary would be far in excess of his needs, he began to seek out progressive causes to give to. In 2009, he became involved with Resource Generation. Through Resource Generation, he found Social Justice Fund Northwest, and in 2010 he joined the first SJF Giving Project, a cross-class group of people who come together to fund organizing in the US North-west. He is now the engineer for Google’s Corporate Social Responsibility Team, which aims to build a strong culture of giving at the organization.

Jessan Hutchison-Quillian doesn’t need all the money he makes at Google, so he gives nearly half of it away each year – not just because he can, but because he feels he should. Here he explains the roots of his philanthropy and his commitment to funding social justice issues and community organizing. This interview is based on a Bolder Giving conversation with Jason Franklin[1] and a subsequent phone conversation with Caroline Hartnell.

Can you tell me how you started giving?

My first gift was to the Human Rights Campaign. It was around the presidential elections of 2004 and there was a lot of anti-gay rhetoric. My parents are lesbians so this was upsetting and I wanted to do something about it. I thought, ‘hey, if I give 30 bucks to this it’ll totally solve it.’ I’ve always had this idea that money is one way that you can help change things. Another of my early gifts was to help set up a teaching award in the name of a really great young professor I had who died of cancer – three bucks or something that got me on the donor list for my university for the rest of my life! I think that reflects two different aspects of giving that are common, both for me and for a lot of people. You give for your connections and you also give because of the change you want to see in the world.

It was when I started at Google that I got more deeply into giving. It was already clear to me that I was making way more money than I needed and that I wanted to do something good with the rest. I have been very lucky: my parents have always given me the love and support I need, I’ve had enough to eat and a nice place to live. Others haven’t been so lucky. But I didn’t just want to address basic needs; I wanted to support progressive causes in the US in a way that would be transformative. I also wanted to give internationally because the US economy is based on taking disproportionate resources from the rest of the world and I wanted to give something back. Another reason for getting more into giving at this point was that Google matches your donation up to $6,000 per year, which I wanted to take advantage of.

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Latest from Alliance is the blog of Alliance, the leading magazine for philanthropy and social investment worldwide. Subscribe to Alliance magazine here.

Categories: Peace and Security

Despite Growing Opposition, AKP Remains the Dominant Force in Turkish Politics - International Peace and Security - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 06:50

In the past year, Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AKP party have faced mass protests in Istanbul and other major cities, a widely publicized corruption scandal with deep roots in the party leadership, and a backlash over attempts to censor Twitter and other media. Despite these scandals and growing dissatisfaction with his administration, the AKP managed to win a plurality in the most recent municipal elections.

Despite Growing Opposition, AKP Remains the Dominant Force in Turkish Politcs - International Peace and Security - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 06:50

In the past year, Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AKP party have faced mass protests in Istanbul and other major cities, a widely publicized corruption scandal with deep roots in the party leadership, and a backlash over attempts to censor Twitter and other media. Despite these scandals and growing dissatisfaction with his administration, the AKP managed to win a plurality in the most recent municipal elections.

Tribute to Sithie Tiruchelvam

Alliance Magazine - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 02:00

Sithie Tiruchelvam

Sithie Subahaniya Tiruchelvam, the founder of the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust (NTT), an indigenous philanthropic organization based in Sri Lanka, passed away in Colombo on 22 March at the age of 69 following a brief illness. Writing a tribute to Sithie Tiruchelvam is not an easy task as Sithie was an intensely private person. Yet her public achievements, particularly her numerous contributions to social justice causes in her role as the founder of NTT, have to be shared.  

The ‘wife of Neelan Tiruchelvam’ is a phrase that has been frequently used to describe Sithie, a corporate lawyer with a deep and abiding interest in social justice, research and the world of ideas, and the arts, since she passed away. However, to those who knew Sithie she was never merely ‘the wife’ of Neelan Tiruchelvam, a constitutional scholar, legislator, peacemaker and institution-builder.

After Neelan’s death Sithie wanted to further the values Neelan worked for during his lifetime and realized that an indigenous grantmaking organization could make meaningful contributions to address existing gaps in responding to the needs of communities. This belief led her to establish the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust, the only indigenous grantmaker that supports human rights and peace-building work in Sri Lanka. NTT is rooted within the community and has supported catalysts for social change by focusing on community initiatives.

After the Trust was established Sithie dedicated considerable time and energy towards creating an organization that was more than a grantmaker, as she understood that in order to create confidence among partners and grantees NTT had to support their institutions in ways that extend beyond solely funding projects. Hence, with her support and guidance, NTT actively sought and supported nascent community organizations, often in conflict-affected areas, that were engaged in innovative work in difficult circumstances, sometimes in isolation.

Since the aim is to facilitate community organizations to play an active role in rebuilding social networks, as they are more tuned to the ground realities and needs of the population, NTT’s support has included strengthening institutional capacity to enable organizations to become sustainable and access larger donors and broader partnerships. Sithie felt strongly that indigenous foundations have to look beyond the narrow framework within which grantmakers sometimes operate and encouraged NTT to be brave enough not only to extend these boundaries but also to contribute towards redefining these frameworks, for instance by moving beyond using narrow indicators to measure the ‘success’ of initiatives we support. She believed in taking (calculated not reckless) risks in order to invest in nascent organizations that implement innovative projects which larger donors may not be willing to support.

Sithie recognized the arts could be used as a non-confrontational medium for self-expression and discussion of contentious issues in a restrictive environment, and had the foresight to encourage NTT to support such initiatives. To date NTT has supported theatrical and artistic projects that focus on the impact of war and promotion of pluralism and diversity.

Sithie was very passionate about the work of the Trust and held it to exacting standards. At the same time she took great pride in our achievements. She was particularly proud of our Women’s Fellowship Programme, which seeks to enhance the capacities of women working at the community level to increasingly assume leadership roles within families, communities and villages.

Sithie Tiruchelvam at the FPP launch

NTT’s foray into the global philanthropic sector is entirely due to Sithie, whose efforts led to the Trust becoming a founding member of Foundations for Peace (FPP), a network of indigenous foundations. As FFP members will attest, Sithie was one of the strongest and proudest champions of the network as she appreciated the potential and power of collectives of like-minded people and organizations, not only to support and sustain catalysts for social change but also to function as a source of strength and a security net for indigenous foundations that work in difficult or hostile environments. For instance, the success of our Women’s Fellowship Programme can be attributed to our collaboration with FFP partners, which enabled Fellowship participants to learn from, and share experiences and strategies with, activists working in similarly challenging contexts in other countries.

Sithie was a spirited, strong woman who did not mince words and was not afraid to speak her mind. She showed great affection and generosity towards those she cared about and has supported and encouraged young people in numerous ways, most importantly by introducing them to those who would be able to inspire and mentor them. Making connections between people with varying interests and from different generations and disciplines, sometimes thinking of common areas of possible collaboration one would never have imagined, was something that came naturally to her.

During the past weeks I have been receiving messages from our friends from the global philanthropic sector, particularly those from the Foundations for Peace network who remember her love of life and indomitable spirit and strength. We remember and miss the courage and passion that fuelled her unstinting support and commitment to supporting social justice initiatives.

Ambika Satkunanathan, is chairperson of the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust.

Latest from Alliance is the blog of Alliance, the leading magazine for philanthropy and social investment worldwide. Subscribe to Alliance magazine here.

Categories: Peace and Security

Guinea-Bissau: Elections, But Then What?

In its latest briefing, Guinea-Bissau: Elections, But Then What?, the International Crisis Group examines the bumpy road to the 13 April 2014 elections and the challenges a new government will face. Redistributing power and resources in a country where participation in government has been the main method for acquiring wealth will threaten a fragile balance of forces.

Oksana Oracheva: “Philanthropy doesn’t support or depend on political issues”

Alliance Magazine - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 02:00

Oksana Oracheva

Oksana Oracheva: Exec Director of Vladimir Potanin Foundation on the rise of Russian philanthropy.

Russia and philanthropy are not words that are usually go together by any means. International tensions at the moment express a resonant discord between many social, cultural and political ideas held in Russia and by other parts of the world. Charitable organizations are on the rise but they are struggling to be accepted into society and establish themselves as a local source of support. The introduction of the “foreign agents” legislation in 2012 has meant the withdrawal of many international donors – a space that needs to be filled, and is increasingly being filled by Russian donors. Oksana Oracheva is determined to ensure that this rise in the growth of Russian philanthropy is something that continues.

“It is more important to be transparent nowadays to build trust in the society for what we do,” she explains.

Transparency is a difficult concept to come to terms with in parts of Russia, but Oracheva, Executive Director of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, is not afraid to meet that challenge.

“From the very beginning we decided we wanted to be transparent; we have transparent competition mechanisms and they are clearly explained. We have very clear, transparent procedures for selecting guarantors and how we help the people. And this is not something that has just started right now, but something that has been there from the beginning because we believe it is the only way to be a truly philanthropic organization.”

Oracheva hesitates as she reflects on the progress of the sector in Russia. It is booming compared to two decades ago, but she readily accepts that there remains a great deal of change that needs to be instigated. Philanthropy has at least now started to carve a place on the national agenda. “There is an increase, an expansion, in visibility, because what is important is without visibility you can’t build trust, because people can’t see what you are doing and see if it is really good.”

The Vladimir Potanin Foundation is among the oldest continuous organizations of its kind in Russia, and its focus on internal development has generated a great web of support.

“We just started our new approaches to educational programs, concentrating on master degree students and master degree lecturers. They are improving the quality of education and the quality of teaching and making sure they are bringing the best quality of student and teacher [together]. And we are working on our museums program again in a 10-year program.

“As part of the education and culture program, we believe it is important to support philanthropy in Russia and we will do it in different ways and continue to work on different philanthropy development. We have a program that aims to promote endowments in Russia so NGOs have a sustainable source of incomes and can work on their future through establishing endowments.”

This is all new in Russia explains Oracheva. Philanthropy is still in its infancy and is testing the waters, which means that it is still unsure as to the potential power it has for change and how far it can serve that change. Without a proper infrastructure with regards to philanthropy, there is a concern that many promising enterprises could fall flat.

“There is still a need to develop institutional philanthropy, say in the form of foundations, and in strategic things to do because there is still a lot of ad hoc development going on. Booming is nice but how many of them [philanthropic organizations] survive? There needs to be a step-by-step approach.”

Oracheva pauses to consider the best route for progress in Russia. There is no single path to success for the industry, but recommendations have already been made in order to learn from other philanthropic cultures. She explains “the more strategic philanthropy we have the better it will be for the country. Three years ago now, the Russia Donors’ Forum initiated the annual report for institutional philanthropy in Russia, trying to demonstrate the results we are having, how good it is to have a proper philanthropic organization that works on different areas, and the impact that has where you can develop your own organization or partner with someone if you want to achieve the same goal.”

This alignment of goals is a difficult field to negotiate in Russia. Whilst developing Russian society is something of high importance, the government has strict guidelines on how development can be implemented. Living donors, too, always try to exercise a great level of importance over areas for development.

“It is a concern,” admits Oracheva. The philosophy that money talks is certainly a powerful one in Russia, and overcoming restrictions is something that has to be tackled from the start.

“From the very beginning, the foundation establishes certain rules, where the donor [consents] to certain rules. That is how our foundation works: there is a founder and he set areas where he would like to work – like education and culture, or endowments – but [he] does not intervene in the process, because to work on the process you need professionals.”

Autonomy on projects has caused philanthropic crises in the area in the past. There have been ventures that have been unsustainable, as Oracheva reflects: “There aren’t many international organizations or foundations left in Russia. They left for one reason or another, some of them before changes in Russian legislation, some of them more recently.”

However, she firmly believes that this only heightens the onus of Russian responsibility to make progress in the area. “We believe it is really important to develop Russian philanthropy and its role to become greater. It was different when we were new and ‘babies’ and we needed foreigners.  Now we need to be part of a bigger community.”

Salzburg Global’s philanthropy session then provides an excellent framework in which to discuss and collaborate in this way. “There is the right atmosphere for exchange of ideas, and bringing really interesting people from all over the world, and if you want to learn and share – and we do want to learn and share – then it is a good place to come. It is an interesting agenda, with interesting people and a way to be part of the philanthropic world.”

International philanthropy, however, is still not part of the Russian philosophy and Oracheva believes that development in this sphere would foster a better potential not just for national charity work, but for global interaction. “We need to be part of a community, sharing practices, learning from each other, and that is a two-way street and always about interaction and achieving better results.”

The elephant in the room is always the role of the government in restricting these practices. The question regarding philanthropic efforts is: can there even be true independence? With a wry smile, Oracheva concludes, “Philanthropy doesn’t support or depend on political issues – it’s different”.

Alex Jackson, writer at Salzburg Global Seminar.

This is cross posted with permission from Salzburg Global Seminar.

Latest from Alliance is the blog of Alliance, the leading magazine for philanthropy and social investment worldwide. Subscribe to Alliance magazine here.

Categories: Peace and Security

Despite Growing Opposition, AKP Remains the Dominant Force in Turkish Politics - International Peace and Security - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:00

In the past year, Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AKP party have faced mass protests in Istanbul and other major cities, a widely publicized corruption scandal with deep roots in the party leadership, and a backlash over attempts to censor Twitter and other media. Despite these scandals and growing dissatisfaction with his administration, the AKP managed to win a plurality in the most recent municipal elections.

Despite Growing Opposition, AKP Remains the Dominant Force in Turkish Politcs - International Peace and Security - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:00

In the past year, Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AKP party have faced mass protests in Istanbul and other major cities, a widely publicized corruption scandal with deep roots in the party leadership, and a backlash over attempts to censor Twitter and other media. Despite these scandals and growing dissatisfaction with his administration, the AKP managed to win a plurality in the most recent municipal elections.

Turkey Update - International Peace and Security - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:00

Steven A. Cook and Henri J. Barkey give an update on the current political situation in Turkey and assess upcoming challenges for the country.

Despite Growing Opposition, AKP Remains the Dominant Force in Turkish Politics - International Peace and Security - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:00

In the past year, Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AKP party have faced mass protests in Istanbul and other major cities, a widely publicized corruption scandal with deep roots in the party leadership, and a backlash over attempts to censor Twitter and other media. Despite these scandals and growing dissatisfaction with his administration, the AKP managed to win a plurality in the most recent municipal elections.

Despite Growing Opposition, AKP Remains the Dominant Force in Turkish Politcs - International Peace and Security - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:00

In the past year, Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AKP party have faced mass protests in Istanbul and other major cities, a widely publicized corruption scandal with deep roots in the party leadership, and a backlash over attempts to censor Twitter and other media. Despite these scandals and growing dissatisfaction with his administration, the AKP managed to win a plurality in the most recent municipal elections.

Turkey Update - International Peace and Security - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:00

Steven A. Cook and Henri J. Barkey give an update on the current political situation in Turkey and assess upcoming challenges for the country.