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Private Philanthropy for Development

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Philanthropy’s role in advancing sustainable development attracts a lot of attention. This report calls into question long-held assumptions about the volume, nature and potential of foundations’ engagement in developing countries, and the role they can play to support the SDGs. It presents ground-breaking data and analysis that capture previously non-existent global and comparable quantitative and qualitative data on how foundations support development.

The report examines philanthropic resource flows for development purposes, as well as foundations’ priorities, practices and partnering behaviours. It presents fresh perspectives and action-oriented recommendations to optimise philanthropy’s role in support of sustainable development.

This report offers practical insights for government policy makers and decision makers in civil society organisations, social enterprises and foundations. It results from close co-operation between the OECD Development Centre’s Network of Foundations Working for Development (netFWD) and the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate.

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Executive summary

Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require more resources than are currently spent, in particular in developing countries. Private foundations’ role in advancing sustainable development has attracted a great deal of attention. They are established sources of both funding and innovative approaches for sustainable development. However, two major bottlenecks have prevented foundations from fulfilling their development potential. First, the dearth of reliable and publicly available data about philanthropic flows hampers the ability of researchers, donors, governments and the philanthropic community itself to compare or aggregate data to map accurately foundations’ contribution to development. Second, the limited understanding of foundations’ priorities and partnering behaviours by official aid agencies, governments and civil society to some extent prevents closer co‑operation.

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