Private philanthropy's global reach
e-giving spurs new practices, donors. But biggest 'giving' is migrant workers' remittances.
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The first-ever random-sample survey of US religious congregations' giving to developing countries helped boost religion figures to $8.8 billion in 2006. The survey, done for the Index by the University of Notre Dame, found that 57 percent of congregations gave an average of $10,700 to US organizations involved in relief and development. More than 30 percent made direct donations to foreign programs or joined in short-term service trips (evangelism resources were excluded).Skip to next paragraph
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For instance, River Road Unitarian Church in Bethesda, Md., sponsors an annual trip to Santa Marta, El Salvador, to work on community projects (such as building a computer center and planting trees). "We've been going there for 13 years," says church member Don Chery in an interview. "We focus primarily on education programs."
Churches also developed their own programs: Five Talents International, a microfinance organization based in Virginia, was founded by the Anglican Communion to respond to the challenge of poverty. It provides business loans, education, and technical aid to women's groups in 12 nations.
"We work with local churches," says executive director Craig Cole. "It allows us to reach into villages where other organizations may not be able to go as quickly because they have no relationship there." With loans of about $100, they have improved the lives of 20,000 clients and their families. "The return on investment is pretty phenomenal," he says.
The report highlights new styles of giving backed by wealthy businessmen. Ashoka financially supports "social entrepreneurs" in developing countries – people who address social problems in entrepreneurial ways. The Acumen Fund aims to prove that "small amounts of capital combined with large doses of business acumen can build thriving enterprises that serve vast numbers of the poor." It invested in a firm that uses innovative technology to purify and deliver affordable water to half a million people in India.
European initiatives include Inter Milan, the professional soccer team with a program for Lebanese children, and the Fair Trade Foundation, through which British universities and students commit to fair-trade foods and products on campus.
European nations focus more than the US on governmental aid. But official development aid from the 22 donor nations decreased from $106 billion in 2005 to $104 billion in 2006.
The importance of money sent home by migrant workers is clear. Developing nations received $122.4 billion in remittances from donor countries in 2006, boosting family incomes, and spurring economic growth and democratization, the report says.