Philanthropic Freedom and Inclusive Partnerships for Development
By admin June 30, 2015



The 2005 Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness and the following 2008 Accra Agenda for Action emphasized the importance of inclusive partnerships, which require full participation of all partners, including donors in the OECD/DAC and developing countries, as well as other donors, foundations and civil society. In this vein, while diverse Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are critical partners in building a better world, the political and social environment that allows or bans NGOs to work inside a country is significant.

At the moment, 80 percent of economic engagement of “global north” in the “global south” comes from private sector and civil societies which is comprised for the most part of NGOs. Therefore, the Hudson Institute, a policy research institute based in Washington D.C., researched and released the first Philanthropic Freedom Index (PFI) to measure the extent of philanthropic and civil society’s participation in development and how freely they are working in a given country.

The important components to measuring the PFI are legal policies and regulatory frameworks, including the processes of donating, establishing an organization, and the fiscal and financial incentives for individuals and organizations working locally. According to the research, the richest countries including the United States, the Netherlands and Germany ranked top in the PFI. Among the less-developed countries, the Philippines was the only one that was included in the top 20 in the index out of the 64 surveyed countries. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are outliers ranking the 63th and 64th in the index, though they are rich countries. Evidently, the score of PFI was not proportional to the wealth of the country.

The reason some countries are imposing a regulation on activities of NGOs is understandable. For example, some countries such as, Pakistan, China, and Cambodia, have concerns that NGOs are used to feed illegal activities, including terrorism and drug trade. Therefore, a “balancing act” is needed to let the operations of philanthropic organizations help better people’s lives without risking national interests and security.

Although the high score of PFI do not necessarily mean that civil partners contribute more to development, countries with low scores need to take a close observation to determine under which environment NGOs are working in their countries and the number of contributions being made by the NGOs. As the Accra Agenda for Action recognized, partnerships from all kinds of donors and change agents are necessary for inclusive and sustainable development.

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