Monday, September 6, 2010
Lasting thoughts from this summer
Before I left for Liberia, I had set out to learn more about the world of philanthropy (through Government's perspective), and I believe I was able to do this. In my short time with the Philanthropy Secretariat I was able to see the struggles that (third world) governments face when working with philanthropic funders, specifically: turning keen interest into actual financial support, making sure foundations align themselves with the country's development goals, and encouraging foundations to collaborate to scale up their initiatives.
This summer I was also able to catch a glimpse of the struggles which local NGOs face while working with international funders. NGOs must adhere to grant stipulations, even if this puts them in a bind (this is in addition to the struggles of their day-to-day operations). I witnessed the struggles which NGOs face when they lack the capacity to provide funders with all the necessary documentation and information they require. On the flip side, now I better understand the frustrations of international funders as they try to operate within the Western system, while assisting these third world NGOs. The need for an office like the Philanthropy Secretariat is great in a place like Liberia.
What I was able to do in Liberia was minimal compared to the work that needs to be done, but I m happy that I was able to help plan the annual Foundation's Meeting (which will be September 20th in New York). Each year, the Secretariat hosts all its international philanthropic partners to discuss the year's successes and challenges. This year, the Secretariat will feature one government agency at the meeting in hopes that foundations will collaborate to fund one project. I was fortunate to assist in the request for proposals process, and in the selection of the project which will be featured at the meeting.
My greatest accomplishment this summer was working as the liaison for Redemption Hospital. It was great to see something tangible come out of the meetings with hospital personnel and the discussions with the foundation representatives. Indeed one of the greatest challenges of this type of work is finding the appropriate amount of funding which will cover the needs of the grantee and fit the funder's goals.