UAE | General

Charity bodies discuss challenges at Abu Dhabi summit

Venture philanthropy to focus more on the ‘how’ of philanthropy rather than the ‘what’

  • By Sara Sabry, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 17:54 November 13, 2013
  • Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The transformation from traditional to venture philanthropy can be difficult and quantifying the improvement in results is challenging, philanthropists and foundation leaders said on Wednesday at the Emirates Foundation’s first Philanthropy Summit held in the capital.

Venture philanthropy uses many of the tools of venture funding to promote start-up, growth and risk-taking social enterprises.

Representatives from participating foundations expressed the importance of achieving a long-term impact by empowering more youth to benefit societies in a sustainable way.

They have equally shared a belief that for philanthropy to deliver real sustainable outcomes, it should be focused and measureable.

The launch of the initial findings of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) global foundation network report entitled ‘Venture Philanthropy: Dynamics, Challenges and Lessons in the Search for Greater Impact’ generated a lot of interest from regional as well as local foundations during the second day of the summit.

OECD works to promote policies and methods that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

The report has found that all the foundations that were looked into for this study experienced a clear dissatisfaction with the impact of their grant-making methods.

“We are delighted to see that there is some very progressive philanthropic work in the Arab world. We should love to see more regional foundations joining in to be able to share lessons learned with their global counterparts,” Bathylle Missika, deputy head of policy dialogue at OECD, said.

The report showed that the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development only has input data prior to adopting. They now collect data on indicators such as number of hours of voluntary service or number of social inclusion placements on their financial literacy courses.

The Foundation’s aspiration is to put figures on the social and financial value of their activities and they are currently building a baseline to do so. “Emirates Foundation underwent a transition in 2012 to shift from being a grant based organisation to being an operational one. We also phased out time-bound projects and now only have a small focused portfolio of long-term programmes,” Clare Woodcraft, CEO of the Emirates Foundation, said.

“We are very willing to share the lessons learned of this transition and keen to hear from other regional counterparts about what works and what does not,” she added.

On the sidelines of the philanthropy summit and as a first step towards establishing more effective philanthropy, two of the region’s most prominent philanthropic entities, Emirates Foundation and the Society of Majid Bin Abdulaziz for Development and Social Services, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Both organisations have changed their core business models in recent times with a view to increasing social impact.

“We are equally focused on ensuring really tangible outcomes for our target beneficiaries. We will focus on the how (the tools) of philanthropy rather than the what (the sector focus),” Hammam Zare, general manager of the Majid Society, said.

The two-day summit, which started on Tuesday and ended on Wednesday, was held under the patronage of Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister and Chairman of Emirates Foundation.

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