Global Philanthropy Update - October 2020

Thursday, October 8, 2020 - 3:15 pm EDT
Brian Kastner

With more than one million people lost to COVID-19, the world is in mourning and rightfully so. It is not only the people we have lost, but the progress that the world had been making in becoming a more equitable, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous place. Additionally, while COVID-19 has occupied headlines, the world has not stopped spinning. From recent FCRA amendments in India to violent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan to mass protests in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, the world continues to grapple with longstanding issues that are now compounded by the constant threat of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) expire in less than 10 years and the world has taken steps backwards in many of the targets and indicators comprising the SDGs. To help achieve the SDGs, philanthropy will need to continue to address the ways in which it can become a more trusted partner in our society, in global development efforts, and in supporting community-led rebuilding.

I want to leave you with a quote from Frederick Douglass, as he addressed a crowd in 1857 just years before the Civil War broke out, “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”

Continue to struggle and please keep in touch.

All the best,

Brian Kastner

Manager, Global Philanthropy




This new member community on the Council’s Philanthropy Exchange is made just for you, global grantmakers and leaders in philanthropy across the world. It’s as simple as joining the community, signing up for alerts, and starting conversations with your peers about topics related to global philanthropy. The Philanthropy Exchange is a member-only benefit.




For the rest of the fall, we’ll be sharing blogs written by experts in the field who are looking at how the Philanthropy Pledge is reflected in their global philanthropy. From exploring trust and listening to communities, to providing general operating support internationally, we hope the blog series will spark new ideas and help you grapple with some of the unique challenges of operating globally.

We’re happy to share the first blog in the series by Feedback Labs, “Building Trust, Breaking Traditions: How Foundations Can More Effectively Respond in Times of Crisis."



On September 29, 2020, new amendments to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) went into effect. Current legal guidance is that all funders should suspend sending new grants to the country. The law has been called disastrous for Indian civil society. The Council held a roundtable last week and you can read a summary of the call here (members only) and read our current guidance based on insights from Indian legal experts.

As this situation evolves and we await guidance from the Indian government, please keep in touch and continue to visit our website for any updates.

Hong Kong’s new Security Law came into effect on June 30, 2020. Amnesty International’s summary of the law explains the sweeping new powers that are based in national security concerns. The chilling effects of the law have already been felt, with some NGOs relocating their offices and some grantmakers experiencing increased difficulty.

If you are experiencing issues related to the security law, please let me know.

Al Jazeera is the latest organization to come under scrutiny through the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). On Monday, September 14, DOJ sent a letter to AJ+ stating that it should register given it conducts “political activities” on behalf of the Qatar government. You can read Al Jazeera’s response and a statement from the National Press Club. The timing of the UAE’s normalization of relations with Israel is more than a coincidence and shows that FARA is increasingly a political tool, which is a worrying trend that may become more common. 


Shifting Practices, Sharing Power? How the US Philanthropic Sector Is Responding to the 2020 Crises
The Council on Foundations, in partnership with Dalberg and Philanthropy California, released this new report that surveyed more than 250 foundation leaders about how they are addressing COVID-19 and racial injustice so far in 2020.

The Big Reset
New resources for funders who are navigating the crises of 2020 including guidance and reference lists.

Outsized Challenges Demand Creative Solutions: Expanding Payout Through Debt Financing
Learn more about the Ford Foundation’s social bond efforts via this recorded webinar.

Balancing Purpose, Payout, And Permanence: Strategy Guide
The Council on Foundations, in partnership with the National Center for Family Philanthropy, released this guide to help foundations who are dealing with increasing payouts during crises.

Catalyst 2030: Funders Information Session
Catalyst 2030 is an emerging movement of world-class social innovators and donors committed to accelerating collaboration with a systems mindset to achieve the SDGs. Join them on Tuesday, October 27th at 8:30 a.m. PST / 11:30 a.m. EST / 4:30 p.m. CEST, for a Funders Information Session, hosted by Tim Hanstad, CEO, Chandler Foundation, and Jeroo Billimoria, Founder, Catalyst 2030. Contact Jen Ankcorn for further info and to RSVP.


Funding from a Place of Trust – Synergos and Citi Foundation
This new report explores the importance of providing general operating support and capacity building grants globally, an important component of the Philanthropy Pledge.

Risk Management Principles Guide for Sending Humanitarian Funds into Syria and Similar High-Risk Jurisdictions- ACAMS
A new comprehensive guide to complying with sanctions and dealing with difficulties around granting to Syria, including important lessons for granting to other high-risk countries.

Toolkit for Principled Humanitarian Action – Norwegian Refugee Council
A helpful resource on counterterrorism compliance and risk management, including helpful tools for any global grantmaker.

Advocacy with Borders: Responsible Grantmaking for Better Global Policy - CEP
CEP’s new report shows what foundations are doing around policy and a follow up post provides tips for global funders to engage in policy work outside the US.

Black Foundation Executives Request Action by Philanthropy on Anti-Black Racism - ABFE
The Council on Foundations joins with other national philanthropy serving organizations to stand in solidarity with ABFE: A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities in their call for philanthropy to take action on anti-Black racism.


Lessons Learned From Delivering $100 Million In Support To Local Leaders – Alliance Magazine

Mexican President Targets U.S. Philanthropy, But It’s Mexican Civil Society That Could Take The Hit – Johnson Center 

Islamic Relief Is A Charity, Not A Terrorist Group. We're Going to Court to Prove It – The Guardian

Philanthropy Isn’t Spending Enough on Climate Change, and it’s Missing Big Opportunities – Inside Philanthropy

19 Years Later EO 13224 Continues to Block Humanitarian Aid. It’s Time for an Update – Charity and Security Network

Why Trust-Based Philanthropy Is The Best Response To The COVID-19 Crisis – GlobalGiving

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on all
International Giving
Global Philanthropy Updates