Philanthropy

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Debate sparked between MEPs and philanthropists on Idea of single market philanthropy

Members of European Parliament, representatives of the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee discussed creating a European space for donors and fostering cross-border giving. The debate was entitled 'Single Market for Philanthropy – Helping unlock the potential for public good across Europe' and saw the emergence of a cross-party alliance between Greens, Renew, EPP and S&D. To create a European space for donors, MEPs Sven Giegold and Sergey Lagodinsky discussed a potential proposal for a 29th regime of a 'European public benefit statute'. Regulatory tax barriers, affecting cross-border philanthropy within the EU, currently undermine this. The Romanian Council Presidency issued an EESC opinion on Philanthropy, calling on the EU to promote organised philanthropy, and asking for elimination of barriers within the internal market.

Istanbul to host refugee economic inclusion conference

Istanbul is hosting a two-day conference to discuss the economic inclusion of young refugees in their host communities. The conference is set to bring together more than 150 stakeholders from the MENA region, policymakers, international and national NGOs, private sector, academia, and entrepreneurs. Participants will discuss various methods for enhancing economic inclusion of refugees and host communities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The two-day program will be held in partnership between the Dutch International NGO Spark and Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), with the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs as sponsors.

Alwaleed Philanthropies invests $5m in global fight for vaccines

Alwaleed Philanthropies is investing a further $5 million in its partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The foundation will make the investment through Gavi’s INFUSE initiative (Innovation for Uptake, Scale and Equity in Immunization). The grant is part of a range of efforts by Alwaleed Philanthropies to improve routine immunization and builds on the original $1 million investment made in 2015 to support vaccines in Timor Leste, Kiribati, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Guyana for the 2016-2020 program. Princess Lamia bint Majid Al-Saud, general-secretary of Alwaleed Philanthropies, announced the partnership at the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development. Alwaleed Philanthropies recognize the pressing need to support immunization, as the majority of the world’s population is increasingly living in urban areas, and more than 19.4 million children are still under-immunized.

UNHCR's Refugee #Zakat Fund raises $38.1mln; assists 111,209 families

The UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund has raised $38.1 million in six months and supported 111,209 families (648,476 individuals) across seven countries. The United Nations' refugee agency’s zakat fund is a Sharia-compliant structure that channels zakat funds to the most vulnerable refugees. It is a dedicated non-interest-bearing account in Switzerland. Due to generous contributions from donors across the globe, the fund surpassed the fundraising target of $26 million originally set for 2019. The largest three destination countries comprise Yemen ($13.5 million); Jordan ($0.7 million), and Lebanon ($0.6 million). The remainder of the funds are mostly assigned to help some 670,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and distribution is in progress.

Reflections on legal barriers to cross-border #philanthropy in Europe

The European Union has rules implementing a single market for for-profit activities while nonprofit, philanthropic activities lack any comparable system. There is increasingly a 'closing space' for civil society organizations engaged in cross-border activities. The legal barriers to cross-border philanthropy represent complex issues in Europe, especially since they reflect the larger division over the extent of European integration and union. Addressing them therefore requires diligence, creativity, and an appreciation of the larger political context. The European organizations have all of these characteristics.
It is their efforts that have led to growing support for philanthropy, as demonstrated most recently by the European Philanthropy Manifesto and the European Economic and Social Committee’s opinion on 'European philanthropy: an untapped potential'.

Wealthy #philanthropists call on themselves to pay more tax

A group of wealthy Americans have written an open letter to the 2020 presidential candidates in support of a wealth tax. The letter is signed by 20 individuals including philanthropist George Soros, Facebook’s co-founder Chris Hughes, Disney heiress Abigail Disney and Blue Haven Initiative co-founders Liesel Pritzker Simmons and Ian Simmons. The group outlined six key reasons why they are in favour of a wealth tax, including using it to fight climate crisis, boosting the economy, improving public health and strengthening freedom and democracy. While the letter refers to arguments against a wealth tax, the signatories claim these are mostly technical and often overstated. The letter further shows that polls indicate that higher taxes for the wealthy is politically popular.

Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art Awards $2.4 Million in Grants

New York's Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art has announced fifteen grants totaling $2.49 million in support of arts and media projects dedicated to strengthening relationships between U.S. Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The grants are part of the foundation's Building Bridges 2018-2019 Program, which supports theatrical and literary programming, documentary films, hands-on workshops, and a "jingle truck" created by a Pakistani truck-art painter that will tour elementary schools. Senior program officer Zeyba Rahman said the projects proposed by grantees offer an inspired, inventive, arts-based approach to deepen connections between Muslims and their neighbors in the U.S. For a complete list of Building Bridges Grant Program awardees, see the DDCF website.

NGOs appeal for immediate end to attacks on civilians and hospitals in Idlib

Heads of 48 NGOs working in Syria have signed an open letter to the UN Security Council calling for an immediate end to attacks on civilians and hospitals in Idlib. Three million civilians in northwest Syria are scared and many are homeless. According to the United Nations, over 200,000 people were forced to flee the continuous bombing and shelling of towns in southern Idlib and northern Hama. SAMS President Dr Ahmad Tarakji says the United Nations has a responsibility to protect the schools, hospitals and homes and present a tangible plan to deter such attacks. Human rights organizations are now urging all parties to act quickly to ensure the protection of civilians in northwest Syria.

UNHCR unveils Refugee #Zakat Fund

The United Nations Refugee Agency has launched a new global structure that transforms UNHCR’s existing Zakat programme into a global fund. UNHCR unveiled its 'UNHCR Zakat Program: 2019 Launch Report', which shows that global Zakat giving stands at $76 billion worldwide, and could potentially reach an amount as high as $356 billion. According to Houssam Chahine, UNHCR’s Head of Private Sector Partnerships, it was inevitable for the Zakat program to evolve into a structure that better appeals to the global Islamic finance industry. The Fund allows UNHCR to be even more transparent. The decision to restructure the Zakat program into the global Refugee Zakat Fund is due to the high donor turnout UNHCR has witnessed in the past years.

Guide Urges Funders to Support Sustainable Development Goals

A new guide from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors offers advice for philanthropic funders on how to align their missions and activities with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The publication provides practical advice as well as examples of how other funders are addressing social and environmental challenges. The guide argues philanthropy has a critical role to play not only in providing support for the goals but also in providing risk capital for innovative approaches. Volume one of the guide lays out the economic, social, and environmental issues encompassed by the SDGs. Volume two outlines three steps: planning, assessing progress, and reporting and using data, that funders can take to align their efforts with the SDGs and increase their impact.

OPINION-Strategic Compassion: The power of Islamic finance in the service of global good

The practitioners of Islamic finance are increasingly framing their practices as ethical, socially responsible and conducive to humanity’s wellbeing. Tools like the obligatory zakat and charitable donations generate between $200 billion to $1 trillion annually. According to the World Bank, zakat can alleviate poverty in 20 of the 39 OIC countries. In Indonesia, Baznas—a national institution mandated to collect, distribute and manage zakat— has benefited around 6.8 million people. Baznas is also believed to be the first zakat organization to have formally committed to supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2018, in neighboring Malaysia, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) pioneered a zakat-financing instrument with a local zakat authority to support Kenya’s Drought Assistance Programme. Green-gram seeds were bought with the zakat monies and distributed to 175,000 households. In six months, the crops produced and sold a yield worth $20 million.

Pope Francis Ditches Charity in Favor of Impact Investing

After decades of giving to charity, a growing number of Catholics are starting to put their philanthropic billions into profitable investments instead. The new aid model is also backed by Pope Francis. Catholic investment funds are increasingly investing in projects in emerging economies and earning a return while also doing good. Impact investing is growing in popularity among investors who want to support development goals such as clean energy, education and healthcare. According to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), $228 billion was managed in impact investments worldwide in 2017, double that of 2016. An organisation spearheading the new mission is Catholic Relief Services (CRS). CRS has lent $1 million to banks in El Salvador that lend on to city authorities to spend improving and expanding their erratic water services. CRS aims to give 300,000 people reliable water access in the next three years while also earning single digit returns from the loans.

Waqfcoin: Crowdfunding Platform Uses Blockchain to Serve Humanity

Singapore-based fintech firm Finterra has developed a crowdfunding platform that uses blockchain to create smart contracts that would be linked to specific Waqf projects. Cash Waqf is a type of Waqf which is categorised as movable Waqf. It aims to promote service to mankind by establishing the endowment using money as opposed to using immovable assets. The idea of Waqfcoin lies on the principles of cash Waqf. Blockchain technology can be used to build trust in Waqf management and to ensure accountability. The technology could also provide a comprehensive global database on Waqf, which can be easily created and maintained in a transparent manner.

Awqaf And Minors Affairs Foundation Adopts #Endowments Investment Policy 2018-2021

The Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF) has adopted a three-year Endowments Investment Policy. The board meeting was attended by senior board members who reviewed the achievements of AMAF’s newly appointed Charity Work Committee, Investment Committee, and Endowment Development Committee. In addition, it also reviewed the executive regulations of the Dubai Waqf Law No. 14 of 2017 (Dubai Waqf Law) and Dubai Law No. 9 of 2007 establishing Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation. The Charity Work Committee presented the financial budget for charitable work in 2018, which has exceeded AED74 million to date. Philanthropic projects during the Year of Zayed included the voucher initiative for needy families worth AED700,000, the AED150,000 Umrah initiative, and the AED450,000 Fund for Cancer Patients. AMAF also joined the project of "Modon Al Khair" to contribute AED500,000 towards the construction of homes for low-income people.

Sadiq Khan backs #crowdfunding campaign for pro bono advice app

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has backed a campaign to raise money to boost free legal services to disadvantaged people. The money is being raised on a crowdfunding site for an application that could be made accessible through advice centres and even food banks. According to Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, the former president of the Law Society, £25,000 has been raised for the project so far and £2,000 more is needed to launch the six-month pilot this September.

DIB donates Dh3m to Al Jalila Foundation

Al Jalila Foundation has received a donation of Dh3 million from Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) to support it’s Aawen (treatment) programme. Since its inception in 2013, Al Jalila Foundation has supported 467 patients from 36 nationalities, including 190 children, and invested Dh34 million to provide relief to patients who suffer from chronic illnesses. The treatment costs for patients, newborn to 90 years of age, have ranged from to Dh20,000 to Dh250,000 per individual.

Dubai Islamic donates $5.4m to RAK charity

The Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has donated Dh20 million ($5.4 million) in Zakat money to the Ras al-Khaimah Charity Association. The association will distribute the funds to those eligible for Zakat though legitimate channels during the month of Ramadan. Abdul Razzaq Al Abdullah, head of the Community Services Department of the DIB, handed the donation cheque to Abdulaziz Al Zaabi, chairman of the charity association. Al Zaabi thanked the DIB’s management for its generous support and considerable donation.

UNHCR calls on Muslims to aid refugee families through #Zakat contributions

UNHCR, the UN's Refugee Agency, is counting on the generosity of Muslims to allocate their Zakat to refugee families before the end of the Holy Month. UNHCR provides much-needed cash assistance to extremely vulnerable Syrian refugee families without any alternative sources of income. Zakat contributions this year have already saved 1,152 refugee families in Jordan and Lebanon from falling deeper into debt and poverty, and from the risk of exploitation. However, 5,465 families are still in urgent need of sustainable cash assistance. A contribution of approximately Dhs/ SAR 8,000 ($2,000) feeds, clothes and houses an extremely vulnerable family for a year. According to UNHCR Head of Private Sector Partnerships Houssam Chahine, Zakat allocation is guaranteed to make an immediate difference in the lives of refugee communities in the Middle East.

Men More Likely to Replace Charitable Giving With Impact Investing

While both men and women embrace impact investing, a recent report found that men are more likely to replace charitable giving with impact investments. The report comes from the Women's Philanthropy Institute and is entitled How Women and Men Approach Impact Investing. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study also found that while 82.5% of men and 81.3% of women were aware of the nascent field of impact investing, women were more interested in learning about it. Also, women are more likely to make impact investments in addition to their current charitable giving, as opposed to replacing it. According to the report, impact investors tend to be younger, more educated, and have higher incomes, while married women are more likely to participate in impact investing than married men.

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