In my last blog, I discussed United States federal funding for international programs and research. In this article, I will focus on foundation giving for international programs.
According to The State of Global Giving by U.S. Foundations, during a five-year study from 2011-2015, grant-making by American foundations to charitable organizations outside the United States reached an all-time high. In 2018, international funding topped $10.3 billion, compared to $2.1 billion sixteen years before (an increase of almost 500 percent).
International donorship represented over 27 percent of all grants made by American foundations, while the average grant amount tripled from just over $200,000 to more than $604,000.
The major funding categories are as follows: health (52 percent); economic development (12.5 percent); environment (11 percent); agriculture and food security (8.3 percent); education (7 percent); and natural disaster funding, though on the rise, currently amounts to only a single percentage point.
The top three categories for these grants – amounting to more than 100 percent (due to some overlap) were as follows: project-related (65.2 percent), research & evaluation (39 percent), and capacity building (10 percent).
It is notable that the majority of these grants were channeled through intermediaries, which then parceled the money to other organizations.
Also significant is the fact that over half of all international giving by private foundations came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Sub-Saharan Africa benefited from the largest share of global grant-making by United States foundations and accounted for a full quarter of total grant dollars provided in the five years between 2011-2015.
Besides the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, examples of other major U.S. foundations that make international grants are:
- The Ford Foundation in addition to other programs, funds rural communities to gain more secure rights over land and forests, focused especially on indigenous peoples, racial and ethnic minorities and women.
- The Open Society Foundations funds programs to build vibrant and inclusive societies, grounded in respect for human rights and the rule of law.
- The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation provides funds for family planning and reproductive health, with a decided focus on East and West Africa.
- The Walton Family Foundation seeks grantees who can expand access to high-quality education and also address global environmental issues.
- The Rockefeller Foundation primarily funds public health, eradicating disease (by seeding the development of vaccines for yellow fever and malaria), as well as visionary approaches to rural development in Asia and Africa.
- The Jane Jacobs – The Center for the Living City funds opportunities for community engagement through the lens of the ecology of cities in order to advance understanding of the interconnected human and ecological systems.
- The David and Lucile Packard Foundation supports rural communities, developing future leaders, restoring ecosystems and protecting the oceans.
- The Bloomberg Philanthropies funds economic development for emerging economies, public health, as well as education.
- The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation provides money for wildlife conservation, environmental protection and science education.
The top ten corporate foundations making international gifts are the: Coca-Cola Foundation, Citi Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, Caterpillar Foundation, GE Foundation, ExxonMobil Foundation, UPS Foundation, Walmart Foundation, Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies Contribution Fund and Goldman Sachs Foundation.
Every one of these donors has its own application criteria, but for the majority the following primary considerations are paramount and include:
- Alignment with the foundation’s funding priorities
- Organization’s capacity to carry out the expected activities
- Effectiveness of the proposed activities to address global urgent needs
- Ability to achieve measurable and positive impact
It is axiomatic that by its very nature, international funding is an extremely complex business. Clearly, it is also enormously competitive and more often than not there are several layers of different approaches as well as challenges that need to be addressed. These include governmental protocols, currency fluctuations, and partnership issues as well as fiscal controls and responsibilities.
Successful proposals to these funding agencies start by understanding their culture, “language”, interests, criteria, and previous funding history as well as partnership engagements. Other key areas that govern funding for these donors are credibility, a solid and perspicacious insight into the specific international arena that is in need of funding, as well as a proven record of success.
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