By Cathie Carrigan
In 2018, 47 countries and economies donated $68 billion in cross-border philanthropy—a figure larger than that of 144 of the world’s 217 economies. The 2020 Global Philanthropy Tracker (GPT) provides a crucial baseline for understanding the important role of cross-border giving as it stood before the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be vital for understanding how countries can support each other in the recovery.
There is a growing scope for the private sector in meeting global challenges. Private actors—individuals supporting international charities, investors and businesses, and corporate and philanthropic foundations—are supplementing a wide range of development activities in addition to the traditional government aid.
When combining philanthropy, remittances, and private capital investment, the 2020 GPT shows that private, nongovernmental sources from 47 countries worldwide contributed $658 billion across national borders in 2018, nearly four times the amount of official development assistance (ODA).
The school worked with data partners in every world region, and included countries at every income level to find that philanthropic gifts were sent from Uganda to India, and the Nigerian Aliko Dangote Foundation made a $20 million gift to The Africa Center in New York.
But there are other types of flows not captured by traditional data sources, so these numbers are almost certainly underestimates. There is no way to quantify philanthropic transfers of cryptocurrency or property through blockchain, for example, and direct transfers using mobile phones are not tracked systematically.
The 2020 GPT highlights the importance of timely, high-quality data on philanthropy in countries worldwide in order to enhance trust in the philanthropic sector and support multi-sectoral partnerships. Cross-border giving will play a crucial role in the coming years as the world grapples with the public health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking ahead, in 2021 the school will research and release the next Global Philanthropy Environment Index, which looks at the enabling environment for philanthropy—including the regulatory environment, political and sociocultural environments, and the ability to send and receive philanthropic funds across borders.
Together, the Global Philanthropy Indices offer a comprehensive understanding of the landscape of global giving and are important resources in the toolkit of policymakers, foundation grantmakers, civil society leaders, and individual donors.
Cathie Carrigan is managing director of international programs at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, where she works closely with the research team and a network of international partner experts and scholars to disseminate the Global Philanthropy Indices.