The global impact of recent events taking place around the world has presented philanthropists with unique challenges that will likely shape the future of global philanthropism for many years to come. Increased collaboration, flexibility in charitable structures and the heightened importance of technology in measuring impact are just a few of the immediate responses highlighted throughout KPMG’s white paper on Disruptive Philanthropists.
That does not mean however that philanthropists’ priorities are changing dramatically. The causes and passions that have been triggering action continue to remain very much at the heart and center of activity.
The causes that were important pre-pandemic have not disappeared. They remain as important today, if not more so, and continue to fuel philanthropists as they journey towards their varied benevolent objectives.
“The current climate has accelerated change, for example in leveraging technology and the need for agility, but it hasn’t fundamentally changed the frame of mind on reform in a big way,” says Ashish Dhawan, Founder, Central Square Foundation.
In light of recent and enduring global uncertainty, the amount of charitable giving to communities in need has increased and will likely continue for years to come. This giving has been also channeled in many ways – for example, some philanthropists have increased direct financial and non-financial giving to causes in their local communities or to those convictions that sit close to their hearts and, more often than not, their geographical location.
Recently, there have been many instances of families pooling their giving to achieve greater impact, including some ‘COVID-19 specific-giving’ like the purchasing of hand sanitizers or personal protective equipment to be donated or given away free of charge. Philanthropists have continued to respond in any way they can as, now more than ever, philanthropists have the ability to make a big impact.
Similarly, with the invasion of Ukraine by Russian military, many philanthropists are turning their attention to how they can help. While this type of giving may be most acute during times of crisis, philanthropists are adamant that they will continue to give, and recent experiences will serve to sharpen their focus.
Collaboration and technology
Recently, there has been increased collaboration between philanthropists, governments, and commercial organizations. “It has brought individuals together in virtual forums that would otherwise never meet. It is driving connections and programs that would never have previously got off the ground,” says Atalanti Moquette, Founder of Giving Women.
It is a trend that is expected to gather pace and multiply the impact of philanthropic programs.
Yet perhaps one of the most significant changes to emerge today, and one that continues to gather pace, is the adoption of technology to deliver and measure the impact of philanthropic programs.
In healthcare, schools, local government and community development programs, technology has been used to help deliver increased support.
Video call platforms and digital chat tools have helped remote African villages remain engaged, online learning platforms are increasing the reach of early years education and technology has also provided increasing levels of data that can help philanthropists improve programs and demonstrate the impact their investment brings.
Recent global events have also highlighted the need for flexibility in the structures surrounding philanthropic activity. As KPMG’s white paper on Disruptive Philanthropists suggests, structures that are too tight or rigid can leave philanthropists’ hands tied with regard to the speed in which support is provided and the manner in which help is dispensed. As a result, such structures are now routinely reviewed to reflect the need for greater flexibility.
This approach is reflected in philanthropists streamlining grant application procedures and measurement metrics. There has also been an increase in unrestricted donations – something charities welcome as it allows a charity/organization to spend budget where it is needed most without added restrictions.
That does not mean that the rigor in decision making has disappeared. Philanthropists will continue to remain very ‘hands on’ in their support, often supplying more than financial assistance with many lending their time, the most precious of resources. Today’s climate has accelerated the pace of change, with advances in technology enabling philanthropists to achieve more while more accurately measuring the impact of their work and commitment. Conversely, it has also highlighted the need for review to allow the introduction of more agile structures that can help reduce response times and allow the bandwidth to provide timely support when and where it is most needed.
Change is inevitable when the global landscape is uncertain, but it is clear that whatever the future has in store, philanthropists can continue to find ways to respond.