Global Philanthropy Update - August 2018

Friday, August 17, 2018 - 4:13 pm
Natalie Ross

Earlier this week, the Council and Foundation Center released a new flagship global philanthropy report: The State of Global Giving by US Foundations: 2011-2015.


This report is the latest in our partnership to track trends in how US foundations support international programs. In 1997, our first report on global grantmaking was more than 250 pages long and found that in 1994 US foundations awarded $966M for international programs. In 2015, international giving by US foundations reached an all-time high, increasing more than 29% from 2011 to $9.3B.

As we analyzed the data, we looked not only at funding in specific regions and for specific subjects, but also how certain events and policies impacted global activity by US grantmakers. We wanted to show how grantmaking changed from 2011 – 2015, as well as set a new baseline for US foundation’s global giving before the adoption of the SDGs, which will serve as an important baseline for the field going forward.

Less than 12% of grants during this period went directly to NGOs based in the country where programs were implemented – 58% went via US intermediaries, and 30% via intermediaries based outside the US. Here are a few things I hope you’ll take away from the report:

  • Donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation make up more than 50% of all global grantmaking by US foundations, and their prioritization of funding global health and food security, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, impacts the overall data. Throughout the report, we’ve shown much of our data both including and excluding Gates grantmaking.
  • Africa remains the region receiving the most global grants from US foundations, receiving more than 25%; India, Israel, Nigeria, and China are the top four countries for programs supported.
  • Two of the biggest decreases in grantmaking were in education grants, which fell more than 30%, and funding for people with HIV/AIDS, which fell more than 80% during this period.
  • We saw a significant increase in grantmaking for women’s reproductive health, more than doubling following the lifting of the Global Gag Rule.
  • Several issues receive small amounts of funding from US foundations, even as they seem to grow in importance globally. We found that grants for climate change equaled less than 2% of global grants and support specifically for refugees and migrants was less than 1.3%.

We also looked at how the closing space for civil society impacted direct giving to certain countries during this period and explored trends in disaster grantmaking. I hope you’ll explore the report in more depth and view our recording of the webinar on it, which we hosted with Foundation Center on Tuesday.

You can also see all the reports we’ve done on global grantmaking since 1997 on IssueLab. We look forward to continuing to track how US foundations are engaging globally. We also hope you’ll tell us what you think of the report and continue to use this data to inform your work globally in the future.


Natalie Ross

Vice President, External Relations

PS – Are you hosting events alongside UN General Assembly in New York in September? We’re compiling a calendar of philanthropy-related events at UNGA and will also be at several convenings. Please share your plans with us so we can include them in our calendar!

Virtual Learning


Are you supporting programs in India and want to know more about how issues like the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act registration requirements impact your local partners? Join the Council and ICNL to hear from legal and regulatory experts on non-profit law in India and how that impacts US non-profits working locally.



How many foreign NGOs are registered currently in China and what are proposed changes to the 2016 domestic charity law? Can you fundraise in China as a foreign NGO? Our recent webinar with ICNL featured two civil society experts who discussed these questions and outlined the current law for philanthropy and non-profits in China.


In-Person Events


The Council is excited to support The Philanthropic Initiative and New England International Donors at their first international philanthropy conference in September. In Boston, you’ll hear about the Council’s work on the SDGs and join sessions discussing a range of global topics, including how to scale solutions globally, partner with community foundations, undertake impact investing globally, and more.





The State of Philanthropy in Tanzania, 2018 via Giving Tuesday

Commissioned by The Foundation for Civil Society and the Tanzania Philanthropy Forum (TPF), this new report discusses how philanthropy is structured, its challenges, how it is progressing, and how it can be improved in Tanzania.

How Should Donors Be Engaging With The New Normal Shrinking of a Civic Space? via Desert2Desert 

This article outlines how donors can better engage with the shrinking civic space, particularly in relation to the role of local and global South actors.

A Billionaire Donor Gives to Save the Seas Down Under via Inside Philanthropy

In the battle for Oceania, Australia’s new mega donor is butting heads with the national government. Is marine protection at risk?

This Website Was Designed to See What Global Issues Need fixing First via Fast Company

Could more time and funds spent toward a better information hub be a better approach to successful Philanthropy? Priority Wiki is trying to make it happen.


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