Getting Started with the Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals

On September 25, 2015, 193 countries formally adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations. The Council’s president at that time, Vikki Spruill, published an op-ed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy urging philanthropic organizations to partner with others to help achieve the SDGs by 2030. The Council is committed to connecting our members with resources to learn more about the SDGs and understand how these global goals are relevant to their existing programs and strategies, globally and in the U.S., and provide an opportunity for philanthropy to lead together towards 2030.

In July 2016, the Council published a report: From Global Goals to Local Impact: How Philanthropy Can Help Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the U.S.

What are the SDGs?

The SDGs are the successors to the Millennium Development Goals. They consist of 17 ambitious global goals such as ending poverty in all its forms and ensuring universal access to water and sanitation by 2030. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs apply to all countries, including the United States. Given the 47 million Americans living in poverty today, these ambitious goals ask all funders, including those focused entirely on domestic issues, to work together to create change.

Learn more about the 17 goals:

How is the Council supporting the SDGs?

The Council is partnering with other organizations to help engage philanthropy in the global conversation on the SDGs. Since 2015, we have hosted webinars, in-person meetings, and convenings to lead together with civil society, government, and the private sector in achieving the SDGs. We look forward to continuing to host convenings, produce resources for U.S. philanthropy to engage in the SDGs, and build awareness of the goals across our sector. 

To date, we've hosted three convenings around the country that bring together leaders from philanthropy, the public sector, and the private sector to discuss how foundations can align their work with the global development framework. Learn more about those discussions:

Philanthropy's support for the SDGs traces back to long before these meetings, and the discussion at our 2016 Annual Conference. Foundations played a critical role in developing the goals, with many in the global development community explicitly stressing the importance of philanthropy to the realization of the SDGs. 

The Council is also a partner of the Post-2015 Philanthropy Partnership with Rockefeller Philanthropy AdvisorsFoundation Center, and the United Nations Development Programme, as well as the netFWD Initiative, which is exploring how philanthropy can best engage with government and the private sector to achieve the SDGs.

Additional In-Depth Resources


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Sustainable Development Goals