More investment needed in philanthropy infrastructure to realise the potential of strategic philanthropy in emerging markets.

Ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) from the Middle East contributed US$8 billion out of a total US$175 billion in UHNW giving in 2022.

Dubai, UAE: To mark the launch of the 'The Future of Philanthropy' research report, an insightful panel discussion was held in the presence of over 700 participants from the global philanthropy and social sector community, to discuss the report findings and reflect on the future of philanthropy in emerging markets. Discussion leaders included Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises, Rohini Nilekani, author and Founder of the Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, Laurence Lien, Chairman of the Lien Foundation and CEO of Asia Philanthropy Circle, and Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Co-Founder of the Motsepe Foundation and Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.

This landmark research project and 2023 report, commissioned by Badr Jafar, involved hundreds of interviews and data gathering on practices of philanthropy and future trends across three major regions of the world: Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

The resulting report underscores two critical imperatives: the need for increased and more meaningful data, and the importance of fostering collaboration among philanthropists not only within their own ranks but also across various sectors. Furthermore, the report emphasises the transformative potential of technology to revolutionise philanthropy in three distinct ways: firstly, by fostering the growth of online giving; secondly, by enhancing transparency in philanthropic operations; and thirdly, by enabling the efficient processing of vast datasets.

Additionally, the report also presents practical recommendations for philanthropists in these markets on how to best engage with these trends that are shaping philanthropic practice, with a view to maximising the impact of their philanthropy.

As COP28 Special Representative for Business and Philanthropy & Chair of the Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum, Badr Jafar highlighted the profound intersection between philanthropy and climate action, pointing to the fact that private philanthropy today stands at over US $1 trillion annually, which is more than 5 times official development assistance from governments. Jafar spoke of several trends that are likely to rapidly accelerate philanthropic engagement in climate and nature outcomes, commenting “with the huge intergenerational transition of wealth underway, there is a highly encouraging shift towards the institutionalisation of philanthropy across the Global South. These markets are developing an increasing recognition of the interconnectedness of climate and a wide range of societal issues including implications for public health, food security, biodiversity, economic equity, and social justice.”  

Jafar also stated that a key focus for COP28 will be to ensure proper engagement from business and philanthropy in these regions of the world that stand the most to gain from climate action, to help funnel more funds into these regions and from within these regions. This effort will need to be anchored in frameworks of multistakeholder collaboration and co-creation, built around a common sense of purpose and urgency.

Other discussion leaders also shared insights from their respective countries.

Rohini Nilekani discussed progress in building quality source philanthropic data in India, commenting, “We’ve seen a steady improvement on philanthropic data, mainly coming from philanthropists in India. As more data is shared, even if patchy at first, it is resulting in an increasing number of people in India ready to provide data regarding their philanthropy, which is helpful in addressing civil society challenges.”

Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe discussed the basis of giving in Africa under the concept of ‘Ubuntu’, where the success of an individual is intertwined with the success of others. She also touched on the positive effects of collaboration, working with the government to build capacity. She commented, “Government is such an important stakeholder, because they have the biggest resources. By partnering with the government, we are able to work with schools across South Africa. It may be challenging at times, but very rewarding when successful.”

Laurence Lien highlighted the challenges facing strategic philanthropy in Asia drawing on his experience leading the Asia Philanthropy Circle, a network of Asian philanthropists. “In Singapore and much of Southeast Asia, working with the government is still at its infancy. Philanthropy is currently too slow and too safe, with the first generation often holding back the next generations of donors. However, I am optimistic that there are enough people saying the right things and having the intent to disrupt,” he said.

The discussion was moderated by Charles Keidan, Executive Editor of Alliance, commented, “Solving intractable problems requires philanthropy, government and business sectors working effectively together. However, philanthropy’s impact is held back by a lack of research, analysis and, at times, leadership. And that’s what makes The Future of Global Philanthropy report significant: it yields valuable insights into the key trends shaping our field as well as making practical recommendations for funders to act.”

The report highlights that by 2030, more than US$15 trillion in wealth will be transferred from one generation to the next. According to the report, this transition will be particularly significant in Asia, where 35% of this wealth will be in millennial hands within the next five to seven years. Furthermore, according to Wealth-X’s Ultra High Net Worth Philanthropy 2022 report, UHNWIs gave US$175 billion in 2022 (36% of global individual giving), with US8 billion coming from the Middle East.

The ‘Future of Philanthropy’ study was undertaken as a follow-up to a 2018 research project on philanthropy commissioned by Badr Jafar. This 2023 comprehensive report delves into the vital role that data and collaboration play in scaling social impact and fostering sustainable change. The report builds on findings from the 2018 project and draws insights from existing literature, along with in-depth interviews with sector experts in three distinct regions – Africa, the Middle East, and South-East Asia. The report also highlights two key needs across these regions, and across the world: the need for more useful data on philanthropy and philanthropic capital flows, and the need for philanthropists to collaborate with each other and across sectors.

The Future of Philanthropy report can be accessed through this link.