header philanthropy

News and Opinions

Philanthropy in the BRICS Countries

The Russian Donors Forum is a partner organisation in the Global Exchange to which Trialogue also belongs. This network unites country-based corporate societal engagement organisations to advance the corporate sector as a global force for good. In 2019 the Philanthropy Research Centre at Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg, in partnership with the Russian Donors Forum, embarked on research on philanthropy in the world’s five largest emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), including the development of the philanthropic culture and the influence of the economy on philanthropic patterns in these countries over the past two decades.

BRICS BIS 2019 pg 164 quick factsThe research consisted of desktop research and 27 in-depth interviews with corporate and private foundations in each of the five countries (five in Brazil, seven in Russia, six in India, three in China and six in South Africa). It is one of the first attempts to collect and analyse data on the size of the total philanthropic sector in the BRICS countries, the factors and characteristics of its development, spending priorities, and the role of socially responsible business and individual donors.

A billionaire who signed the Giving Pledge in 2012 said Bill Gates' philanthropy pact isn't 'growing as rapidly as we hoped'

One member of Bill Gates' and Warren Buffett's Giving Pledge isn't satisfied with how his fellow billionaires have responded to the challenge to give away the majority of their fortunes.

"Bill Gates and Warren Buffett organised a kind of institution that is growing steadily, and perhaps not as rapidly as we hoped, but rapidly in the eyes of many," telecommunications billionaire Leonard Tow said of the Giving Pledge while accepting an award for his own giving at the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy award ceremony in New York City on October 16.

You are the future of philanthropy

"In this uplifting talk, Katherine Fulton sketches the new future of philanthropy -- one where collaboration and innovation allow regular people to do big things, even when money is scarce. Giving five practical examples of crowd-driven philanthropy, she calls for a new generation of citizen leaders."




What non-profits can learn about Coca-Cola

"Melinda Gates makes a provocative case: What can nonprofits learn from mega-corporations like Coca-Cola, whose global network of marketers and distributors ensures that every remote village wants -- and can get -- an ice-cold Coke? Maybe this model could work for distributing health care, vaccinations, sanitation, even condoms ..."



Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we've done

"In 1993, Bill and Melinda Gates took a walk on the beach and made a big decision: to give their Microsoft wealth back to society. In conversation with Chris Anderson, the couple talks about their work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as their marriage, their children, their failures and the satisfaction of giving most of their money away."



The way we think about charity is dead wrong

"Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend -- not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let's change the way we think about changing the world."



The how and why of effective altruism

If you're lucky enough to live without want, it's a natural impulse to be altruistic to others. But, asks philosopher Peter Singer, what's the most effective way to give? He talks through some surprising thought experiments to help you balance emotion and practicality -- and make the biggest impact with whatever you can share."



Gaining a Say: Lifting Up Philanthropy’s Unheard Voices

"For many, “philanthropy” — both the word and the field — conjures up images of elitism. Questions are proliferating about philanthropy’s power dynamics and whether billionaires benefit more than average citizens do: for example, Anand Giridharadas in Winners Take All, Rob Reich in Just Giving, and Edgar Villanueva in Decolonizing Wealth.

As good as those published works may be, the discussion about them reinforces the elitism that they decry. Even worse, while these book are often described as a new wave of criticism, that is hardly the case: There have long been valid critiques of philanthropy, especially from community organizers, grassroots nonprofits, and innovative social entrepreneurs."

Read more in The Chronicle of Philanthropy

The changing face of philanthropy

"Philanthropy as we know it is changing. The traditional practice of cheque-giving is making way for the likes of impact investing and venture philanthropy as the wealthy seek newer, more collaborative ways to give back to society - a trend that's especially prevalent amongst the next-gen, who tend to pursue purpose in their endeavours.

Amidst this shift, we view the rise of social enterprises in both Asia and the rest of the world as a core element in philanthropy's next chapter. These social enterprises - for-profit businesses with a social mission - are determined to address societal problems, and could potentially spark significant positive impact if provided with the necessary guidance and resources."

Read more in The Business Times

What is crowdfunding?

"Crowdfunding is a financing method that involves funding a project with relatively modest contributions from a large group of individuals, rather than seeking substantial sums from a small number of investors. The funding campaign and transactions are typically conducted online through dedicated crowdfunding sites, often in conjunction with social networking sites. Depending on the project, campaign contributors may be essentially making donations, investing for a potential future return on investment (ROI), or prepaying for a product or service."

Africa's Big Philanthropy Homegrown

"The last two decades in Africa have seen a rise in Home-grown philanthropy particularly aimed at addressing specific issues and creating impact at a more structural level. ‘The growth of Home-grown philanthropy in Africa has its roots in a number of phenomena, one of them being the 2008 financial crisis which resulted in long-standing foreign donors being forced to reflect on their support to some countries in Africa. The limits of development assistance deepened the discourse around self-sufficiency and sustainability, particularly in regards to Africa’s attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.’ African philanthropy at the policy table Recently our Co-Chair Mrs Tsitsi Masiyiwa sat down with BBC World Service to explore the concept of home-grown philanthropy among communities and what the future might hold for the concept of philanthropy in Africa. In the documentary series Mrs Masiyiwa shares on what inspired her to start giving and the challenges she believes philanthropy can address across Africa."


Worse than Wasteful: Bad Philanthropic Habits

 “Although it’s amusing to consider how many commuting teachers would probably love to tell the CEOs of a number of railway franchises face-to-face how to run their business, in reality they know their limitations. Teachers don’t generally go around telling supermarket managers where to put their coconuts. So why do wealthy individuals think they can tell schools how to be better schools?”

Making Indian Philanthropy Matter

As elsewhere around the world, wealth is concentrating, and inequality is growing in India. And inter-religious violence and hate speech are growing as a result of fake news and increasingly majoritarian politics.

But while students, farmers, and marginalized communities across India are mobilizing against unjust or failing policies, the most rapidly growing philanthropic activities lean away from, rather than into, these causes or the entrenched effects of patriarchy, caste, and feudalism more generally. Education—especially top-down, technocratic interventions—and direct service delivery in nutrition, health, and sanitation still account for the bulk of philanthropic spending.

Read more in the Stanford Social Innovation Review

Why Funders Must Invest In Organisational Capacity

In the corporate world, any talk of building a high-quality business is immediately followed by the act of building organisational capability. It is almost intuitive to think of putting the building blocks in place: organisation charts, the right people for those organisation charts, and systems and processes. In fact, boards and funders that back the business focus enormously on these aspects in the early days of the organisation’s journey before they start expecting results.

In the social sector,however, the conversation almost always starts with the results—the entire emphasis is on the plan and the programme as opposed to whether the organisation is geared to delivering in a high-quality and a sustainable way. Thus, the model is, in a sense, inverted in the nonprofit space.

Read more in Philanthropy in Focus

What tennis and philanthropy have in common

Roger Federer: I knew I wanted to support children living in poverty by starting my own foundation. From a very young age, I had the deep wish to give back to people who are less privileged than I am. My mother comes from South Africa, and I grew up seeing extreme poverty firsthand. During holidays spent in that region visiting family, I became aware at an early age that not all children enjoyed the same privileges I had growing up in a rich country like Switzerland. That’s why I founded the Roger Federer Foundation in 2003, beginning an exciting and educational journey.

I quickly realized that becoming a good philanthropist isn’t easy. The will to give back is not enough on its own. In the foundation’s early years, we were less rigorous about what we funded, and we quickly realized that we couldn’t measure whether we were having an impact or not. If we really wanted to change children’s lives in a tangible and sustainable way, we needed to go about it in a much more professional and strategic manner.

Philanthropy, like tennis, demands time and discipline. We follow a strict system of checks and balances and an effective project management cycle. Transparency, measurability, and evaluation of our engagement are also fundamental. And we try to achieve all this in the most cost-efficient manner. More than 92 percent of the Foundation’s expenditures flow into the countries and programs, and this is a metric that we are extremely proud of.

Read more in Gates Notes

Jeff Bezos is the world's richest person — and he could redefine philanthropy

As the world's richest person, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos could transform how philanthropy works. Bezos is now far ahead Bill Gates as the world's richest person.

With a net worth of $105 billion, Bezos is likely to retain the title for the foreseeable future, and it could upend how billionaires view charity. Unlike Bill Gates, who has focused on long-term projects, Bezos could focus more on the short-term.

Read more in Business Insider

Philanthropists need to be bridging leaders: Peggy Dulany

Peggy Dulany, the founder and chair of Global NGO Synergos Institute, on the role of leadership and how family shapes attitudes towards philanthropy

Philanthropists often go in with an assumption of what is the most important need of a community. For example, education. Of course, it is an important need always. But somehow without that intermediary process of consultation, things that are simply donated are often passively accepted and you don’t get the community engagement that you need. The main thing for philanthropists is to learn to respond to the needs that the community diagnoses as its problems. But if you just go in and talk to the village leader, you will not, for example, include women in the diagnosis and you get a very different image.

That’s why I often advocate that philanthropists should engage for greater impact. 

Read more in Livemint

“We’re not telling people what to do. We just want to show what’s possible.”

President and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies, Christopher G. Oechsli, takes a deep dive into lessons learned while executing the $8 billion philanthropic vision of entrepreneur Chuck Feeney, aka the ‘James Bond of Philanthropy’.

The Atlantic Philanthropies believes in making big bets for a better world. Since its establishment in 1982 by self-made billionaire and co-founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group, Chuck Feeney, The Atlantic Philanthropies has invested US$8 billion across eight regions, including Australia.

With an investment of US$368 million between 1998-2016, Atlantic’s support of knowledge, research and innovation and the advancement of social equity in Australia helped fund 28 capital projects and resulted in $1.5 billion in funding leveraged from government and the private sector.

Read more in Philanthropy Australia

George Soros and the Demonization of Philanthropy

Soros has long been one of the leading donors to progressive causes in the United States and is the most generous financial supporter of pro-democracy organizations around the world. And his giving will likely only increase in the years to come. In October, Soros disclosed that over the last few years, he has turned over around $18 billion to the institutions through which he has channeled his philanthropy, the Open Society Foundations (OSF).

The enormous gift was met as a confirmation of all the darkest fears stoked by his antagonists. Pointing out that Soros’s foundation would now rank as the second largest behind the Gates Foundation, the right-wing website Breitbart announcedthe news by referring to OSF as the “Death Star.”

Traditional Institutions and Cultural Organizations and their Role in Shaping African Philanthropy

"Embedded in African societies is a culture of giving and mutual support. The average African places tremendous value on charitable giving and traditional institutions such as religious bodies, cultural organizations and monarchies are at the forefront of charitable pursuits in their communities."

  • HRH Queen Sylvia Founder, Nnabareka Development Foundation
  • HRH Queen Thandi Queen of Zulu
  • Bolanle Austen-Peters Founder, Terra Kulture
  • Moderator - Gbenga Oyebode Founder, Aluko & Oyebode

Economics for the Common Good

When Jean Tirole won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Economics, he suddenly found himself being stopped in the street by complete strangers and asked to comment on issues of the day. His transformation from academic economist to public intellectual prompted him to reflect on the role economists and their discipline play in society. The result is Economics for the Common Good, a passionate manifesto for a world in which economics is a positive force for the common good. 

Watch his talk at the London School of Economics

Giving Proof

A recent study showed that generosity changed the activity in people’s brains in ways that increase feelings of happiness, even if the generous act is small or only imagined. In effect, the pledge to be generous primed people to be more giving. There are probably evolutionary undercurrents to this process, says Thorsten Kahnt. Though the experiment lasted only a short time and involved only simulated gains and losses, Kahnt says that “it does show a mechanistic linkage in the brain between doing something nice for someone and feeling better about yourself.”

Why Give: Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom

Can philanthropists make money and do good? Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom, wants to transfer the lives of consumers, shareholders, and people most in need. For Collymore, commercial success can help lead philanthropic endeavors, and in this video, he shares how his life has been shaped by this philosophy.

'“Why Give,” a series of interviews with Africa’s strategic philanthropic leaders, is jointly produced by the Global Philanthropy Forum and the African Philanthropy Forum (APF). Since its launch, the APF has been made possible through the support of USAID, Higher Life Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation, Anonymous, Rockefeller Foundation, Tony Elumelu Foundation, The Elma Growth Foundation, Dangote Foundation, James Mwangi and the World Affairs Council.'

For more information, please visit: philanthropyforum.org/apf

Nedbank Private Wealth Giving Report: Dr Bhekinkosi Moyo

"African philanthropy is best defined with reference to the values that are embedded in this. These values are solidarity, reciprocity, mutuality and the very notion of this being done at a community level.' Watch this short video to understand the difference between western philanthropy and African philanthropy, as explained by Dr Bhekinkosi Moyo, Executive Director of the Southern Africa Trust. To understand the giving behaviours, patterns and trends of high-net-worth South Africans please read the recently released Nedbank Giving Report."

NPOs Remain the Most Supported Beneficiaries

Noxolo Hlongwane, Head of Philanthropy at Nedbank Private Wealth, and Bongiwe Mlangeni, CEO of the Social Justice Initiative, discuss the 2015 edition of The Giving Report and how high net worth South Africans are paying it back to society:

The Future of Philanthropy

A number of leaders in philanthropy were asked to answer the following questions: How does a 21st-century philanthropy contend with the economic system that both produces its conditions of possibility and makes its lofty aspirations necessary? Should it address the structural inequality of which it is a symptom—and if so, how?

Africa’s Philanthropic Infrastructure: Expanding Philanthropy across Africa

"Many of the dangers our societies face, as well as their solutions, will be regional and even global in nature. As we advance philanthropic goals in our own communities, we are poised to foster learning partnerships and share best practices with the rest of the continent’s expanding philanthropic community. What institutions are in place to harvest and share best practices, transfer knowledge, and both expand and enhance the strategic nature of philanthropy in Africa? Are there opportunities for shared learning and partnership that have yet to be seized? This session will explore the pathways to advancing and expanding philanthropy throughout the continent."


  • Barbara Ibrahim, Founding Director, John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement
  • Halima Mahomed, Philanthropy Program Advisor, TrustAfrica
  • Bhekinkosi Moyo, Deputy Executive Director, Southern Africa Trust
  • Mohamadou Sy, Director, Institut Supérieur du Développement Local (ISDL)
  • Moderator: Mwihaki Kimura Muraguri, Associate Director, Rockefeller Foundation

Africa 360 | African Philanthropy

 Dr. Tim Tebeila of the Tim Tebeila Foundation, Pheladi Gwangwa of the Future of the African Daughter Foundation, Chris Mburu of the Hilde Back Education Fund and Bhekinkosi Moyo of the Southern Africa Trust unpack the notion of philanthropy from an African perspective: