Thursday, 12 November 2009

What's wrong with charitable giving: part 2

Marrakech, Morocco

The second nugget of wisdom on charitable giving in Pablo Eisenberg’s Wall Street Journal article of 9 November addresses multi-year funding.  He says, “Few foundations are willing to give their grantees long-term support. Most grants are made on an annual basis, renewable for one or two more years. It is the rare institution that is willing to commit upfront support for five, 10 or 20 years. But that is exactly the kind of commitment that excellent organizations, especially public-policy and advocacy groups, require to meet their long-range goals. Public policies and institutions often change slowly. Nonprofit organizations must be given sufficient time and stability to bring about such changes. Not all nonprofits merit this kind of financing, but those that have the capacity, integrity and leadership to achieve long-term success should be given the resources to reach their objectives.”

I would include GDF in this group, as we are committed to long-term, community-based projects that evolve over time. Fortunately, some of our funders – such as the Darwin Initiative – understand this approach. The Darwin Initiative guidelines state, “Experience from previous projects has shown that, when working with local communities, speed of progress may be constrained by the need to build understanding and consensus before engaging in new approaches.  Therefore, projects working with communities should be realistic about timeframes and rates of progress.” The Darwin Initiative has shown its commitment to this principle by supporting our work in Sabah, Malaysia for an eight-year period.

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