I researched on Philanthropy for an equitable society where I have mentioned ‘‘Inequality, today, is intolerable. During globalisation private investment was highly encouraged for profit and the role of government was defined as a coordinator and welfare provider. Private sector obviously as a profit maker have done tremendous progress, but government is forced to apply austerity measures and now ‘welfare state’ is being questioned by experts. So, a remedy to reduce global inequality and foster economic growth has desperately been expected and ‘creative philanthropy’ could be an alternative.’’ But the fact is ‘‘between 2001 and 2011, the number of non-profit sector increased 25 percent. Their growth rate now exceeds that of both the business and government sectors. It’s a massive business, with approximately $316 billion given away in 2012 in the United States alone’’, But on the contrary inequality is increasing. (Buffett, NY Times, 2013).’’ Because ‘philanthropy was treated as a source of ‘tax exemption’ and ‘promotion of self business’. Stanford professor Rob Reich wrote that ‘‘without significant progress in easing disparity, philanthropy will have a very hard time continuing to justify its tax- privileged’’.
Where I concluded with the theme of ‘‘Richest are the output of the state. Now they have their own responsibility to survive in the economy. Ignoring their role is neither feasible nor acceptable so as globalization. They do charity work optionally to fulfil their own interest. But what need to be done is private sector need to investment in welfare state as well, not only for their business motive. Certain per cent of profit must go to welfare fund. Weaker section of the society must be protected not only by the state but private sector too.’’
Now, a new Global Policy Forum (GPF) working paper, jointly published with Brot für die Welt and MISEREOR, examines the role and impact of philanthropic foundations in development. It addresses the impacts and side effects of philanthropic engagement by taking a closer look at the priorities and operations of two of the most prominent foundations, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in two crucial sectors, health and agriculture.
Conclusion of the study: Over the last two decades, the philanthropic sector has grown in terms of number of foundations, the seize of their annual giving, and the scope of their activities.
- By focusing on quick-win approaches, some foundations tend to neglect structural and political obstacles to development.
- The Gates Foundation influenced priority setting in the WHO and the political shift towards vertical health funds.
- The mushrooming of global partnerships and vertical funds has led to isolated and often poorly coordinated solutions.
- A thorough assessment of the impacts and side effects of philanthropic engagement is necessary.
So far there has been an often undifferentiated belief among governments and international organizations in the positive role of corporate philanthropy in global development. Most recently, in the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (13- 16 July 2015), the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and governments declared:
“We welcome the rapid growth of philanthropic giving and the significant financial and non-financial contribution philanthropists have made towards achieving our common goals. We recognize philanthropic donors’ flexibility and capacity for innovation and taking risks and their ability to leverage additional funds through multi-stakeholder partnerships. We encourage others to join those who already contribute.” 214
But in light of experiences in the areas of health and agriculture, a thorough assessment of the impacts and side effects of philanthropic engagement is necessary.
Governments, international organizations and CSOs should take into account the diversity of the philanthropic sector and assess the growing influence of major philanthropic foundations, and especially the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on political discourse and agenda-setting. They should analyze the intended and unintended risks and side effects of their activities, particularly the fragmentation of global governance, the weakening of representative democracy and their institutions (such as parliaments), the unpredictable and insufficient financing of public goods, the lack of monitoring and accountability mechanisms, and the prevailing practice of applying the business logic to the provision of public goods. In light of these problems, CSOs engaged in joined initiatives with corporate philanthropy should carefully evaluate the impact and side effects of these initiatives and potentially reconsider their engagement.’’ GPF
Feature Image: GPF