Most GCC donations for relief aid from UAE
The largest gift identified was a five-year grant given by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, worth $1.25 billion, to the Kingdom of Morocco.
Clare Woodcraft-Scott; Maytha Al Habsi, Chief Programme Officer, Emirates Foundation; Eric Levine, Interim CEO, Stars Foundation; and Caroline Fiennes, Director, Giving Evidence, at the opening session of the summit. –KT photo by Shoaib Anwer
Philanthropists in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have donated a total of $1.843 billion in 2013 to disaster relief and humanitarian causes across the world. Two-third of these, which comprise 38 donations, were from the UAE.
According to ‘The Million Dollar Donors Report 2014’, carried out by Coutts in partnership with the Emirates Foundation, gifts from foundations account for 53 per cent of this donation, 20 per cent came from corporates while 16 per cent from individuals.
By far, the largest gift identified was a five-year grant given by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, worth $1.25 billion, to the Kingdom of Morocco as part of the UAE’s contribution to the GCC’s Gulf Development Fund initiative.
The second-largest gift of $300 million was given by Kuwaiti Amir His Highness Shakh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al-Sabah in support of the Syrian people in neighbouring countries. The next in line was $58 million from the UAE Red Crescent Authority in support of needy families in the UAE, the report said.
Despite the positive report, experts at the second day of the Emirates Foundation Philanthropy Summit on Tuesday said this barely “scratched the surface”. Charitable giving is deeply-rooted in the Arab culture; however, most are still reluctant to disclose their good deeds.
“It’s so hard to collect the actual donation and (know) how much people are actually spending because in this part of the world, people like to donate (but) the philanthropists like to keep it anonymous and sometimes it’s very informal… I’m sure it’s a very small number of the GCC and I’m sure there are more donations out there,” said Sarah Aziz, director of marketing and communications at Coutts.
Clare Woodcraft-Scott, CEO of Emirates Foundation, noted that despite good intentions, anonymity precludes the sharing of information of lessons learned that could “avoid reinventing the wheel”.
“Disclosing your philanthropy is okay as long as they are impactful,” Woodcraft-Scott pointed out.
“I think the only issue that I have with anonymity is to some degree it’s counter-intuitive with impact. It may deliver an impact but I think with the right partner, it will deliver that much more of an impact… If your ultimate goal is impact, to some degree, it is within your interest to remove the anonymity and become champion of a cause,” Tamer Makary, CEO of Magrabi Foundation, remarked.
Ashish J. Thakkar, founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation, noted the importance of inspiring others.
“The important part is also inspiring others, for people to get inspired… I hate to say this, but if there are ego-driven gains and intentions, then it’s fine. Inspire each other; compete with each other on who gives more. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you are giving,” he stressed.
In the Coutts study, Aziz noted the trend among donors’ increasing interest on their impact.
“Donors are increasingly looking at impact and where their money is getting deployed. It’s not about cheque writing only; it’s about the impact of giving … they really want to see a return where they think they did a difference. It’s not about just giving my money (anymore) it’s about what do I get in return, it’s about satisfaction,” she said.
“Measuring is obviously crucial and the whole monitoring and evaluation process of any giving is very very important,” said Thakkar. According to Makary, the language of impact is easier understood with numbers.
“In relation to numbers, it becomes easier to track and demonstrate impact. It gets people excited about because it’s something tangible,” he said, adding that identifying an addressable and quantifiable market certainly makes it easier to deliver results
However, putting a number in philanthropy is no easy task. Similarly, measuring impact is difficult where it is not quantifiable.
“I don’t think it’s an easy journey,” said Mohanna Al Muhairi, chief operating officer of Emirates Foundation.
He noted that Emirates Foundation activities are completely dependent on private sector support. “This is the only source we have for the programme, so we have to make sure that they are engaged, happy, they get whatever report or outcome they are looking for.”
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