Philanthropic organizations stepping up role in ending poverty | Sigrid Kaag

14 Jun 2013

women in India Pushpa Maurya, 35, the manager of a milk-chilling centre, and women suppliers from neighbouring villages. UNDP and the IKEA Foundation are collaborating on long-term projects in India to promote women's empowerment. (Photo: Graham Crouch/UNDP)

Philanthropy has been evolving into a major building block in development assistance, not only by providing catalytic funding for initiatives, but for its ability to advocate, strengthen civil society and innovate. And as citizens around the world engage in the global conversation about the future they want, philanthropic organizations have been making their voices heard too.

Along with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, OECD netFWD, Worlwide Initiatives for Grantmakers Support [WINGS] and Rockefeller Foundation, we recently co-hosted a dialogue with foundations to explore their views on the post-2015 agenda, and what they envision their role to be in effecting development change.

Many of the organizations expressed their interest in advancing innovative solutions for health and education. They emphasized the importance of job creation and addressing inequalities as pre-requisites for eradicating poverty. In addition, climate change, food security and accountable public institutions are also common concerns to philanthropy and the UN.

As one of many actors in the development sphere, the UN could do well to further deepen the dialogue and collaboration with philanthropic organisations as a means to broaden development impact.

Some examples of venture philanthropy – where philanthropists invest for either a financial or social return – have shown compelling results in reaching large scale and making a difference in the lives of millions of people. From grant making to innovative “social finance” to promoting social entrepreneurship, foundations have a wealth of experience that would be valuable to contribute to the post-2015 agenda.

At UNDP, we have been partnering with various philanthropic organisations in different countries and contexts  to impact poverty. In India, jointly with the IKEA foundation, we are providing better livelihood opportunities to 2.2 million women by offering business as well as leadership training by 2017. In Egypt, jointly with the Sawiris foundation, we aim to provide training and employment opportunities to more than 1,000 youth in new technologies farming and agro-processing technologies.

Over the coming year, we want to plan on building a philanthropic leadership platform –  a network of foundations from around the world to help shape and advance the post-2015 development agenda, and put forward an effective framework through which philanthropy can contribute to common global priorities.

To end poverty, collective action is needed. All actors must come to the table and leverage their strengths, as no one entity or organization can do it alone.  

Vote on and follow the discussion on twitter, #phil2015!

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