Ford Foundation

Introduction

The Ford Foundation is a US-based private foundation established in 1936 by Edsel Ford, son of Henry, the founder of the Ford Motor Company. Their bequests turned the foundation into the then-largest philanthropy in the world. Guided by a vision of social justice across the world, the foundation works to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international co-operation, and advance human achievement.

The Ford Foundation is active both domestically and internationally. Programme areas working to address inequality in all its forms include: Civic Engagement and Government, Creativity and Free Expression, Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice, Natural Resources and Climate Change, as well as Future of Work(ers).

The Ford Foundation has been sharing its commitment data with the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate since 2018. For charts and analyses using disbursement data, commitments are used as a proxy for disbursements.

Private development finance

In 2017, the Ford Foundation provided USD 244.3 million in private development finance through standard grants.

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All of the foundation’s funding was provided bilaterally. However, 0.6% of the total was implemented by multilateral organisations (multi-bi/non-core contributions).

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In 2017, USD 128.3 million (52.5%) of the foundation’s activities was channelled to/through civil society organisations (CSOs) and USD 74.4 million (30.5%) to/through universities, colleges or other teaching institutions, research institutes or think tanks. Moreover, USD 32.5 million (13.3%) was channelled to/through networks and public-private partnerships. See the methodological notes for further details on channels of delivery.

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In 2017, the foundation’s financing was primarily focused on Africa, Asia and Latin America. USD 51.7 million (21.2%) was allocated to south of Sahara Africa; USD 39.3 million (16.1%) to South, Central and North America; and USD 25.9 million (10.6%) to Far East Asia.

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In 2017, 39.9% of the Ford Foundation’s activities was concentrated on its top 10 recipients. Support to fragile contexts reached USD 28.6 million in 2017 (11.7%).

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In 2017, 2% of the Ford Foundation’s funding (USD 4.8 million) was allocated to the least developed countries (LDCs). Lower middle-income countries received the highest share in 2017 (with 24.2%), followed by upper middle-income countries (21.1%), noting that 52.0% was unallocated by income group.

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In 2017, 87.2% of the foundation’s activities was allocated to social infrastructure and services, for a total of USD 213 million, with a significant focus on government and civil society. The remaining share was mainly allocated to production sectors, multi-sector/cross-cutting objectives (including general environmental protection). In general, the Ford Foundation’s grants across all sectors support democratic participation and good governance.

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USD 61.4 million of the foundation’s activities supported gender equality. In 2017, 26.2% of the Ford Foundation’s sector-allocable funding had gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal or significant objective. Support to health, population and reproductive health, and water and sanitation also had a strong focus on gender equality.

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USD 43.9 million of the Ford Foundation’s activities supported the environment. In 2017, 18.7% of its sector-allocable aid supported the environment, USD 6.2 million of which had climate change mitigation and/or adaptation as a principal or significant objective.

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Additional resources

Ford Foundation: https://www.fordfoundation.org

Role of philanthropy in financing for development: www.oecd.org/development/financing-sustainable-development/development-finance-standards/beyond-oda-foundations.htm

OECD CRS database, Private philanthropy for development: https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=DV_DCD_PPFD

Reporting to the OECD since 2018.

Ford Foundation