Linking the SDGs to Philanthropy

Why do the Sustainable Development Goals matter to philanthropy?

These broad global goals address the same problems that our field is tackling: to reduce poverty, improve livelihoods and quality of life, and create a more equitable global society. Looking at the range of issues in the SDGs, all funders can find their work within these collective goals, regardless of what type of foundation you are and whether you fund programs in 90 countries or focus your grantmaking on a specific community in the United States.

Starting in late 2015, the Council has hosted regional convenings for funders to discuss how the SDGs were relevant to their work within the United States, looking at both cities and states, in partnership with local regional philanthropy associations and place-based funders around the U.S.: 

The Council also published a report on the topic in 2016: From Global Goals to Local Impact. This report explains how the SDGs are an important framework for all funders to consider, even those that only fund domestically within the U.S. It also provides case studies and a checklist for foundations to link the goals to their work.

Several Council members have also written about how the SDGs are relevant to their work:

Philanthropy's Unique Role

Governments will require assistance from philanthropic organizations and the private sector in order for the SDGs to succeed. These global goals provide a framework for foundations to lead together with governments, civil society, and the private sector for the next 15 years to create a better world, in the U.S. and around the globe. 

Philanthropy can provide more than just financing for these goals. We are able to act dynamically and take risks in the short-term, but also make long-term commitments towards complex issues like inequality and climate change. With a $3 trillion per year price tag, philanthropy cannot fund the goals to completion alone. Instead, it must leverage non-financial resources as well. 

Philanthropy brings important technical expertise, strong grantee relationships, and links between governments, civil society, and the private sector. This is a role that philanthropy is uniquely positioned to play and one that is vital to the success of the SDGs. 


Connect with Council Staff

Natalie Ross

Vice President, Membership, Development and Finance

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Sustainable Development Goals