By Mary Beth Gallagher, The William Hinman Foundation
As a global grant maker at the recent ASF 2012 National Conference, it was exciting to meet other foundations engaged in international work. It was valuable to get into detail at key panel discussions on global networking and to explore how to leverage opportunities in global philanthropy.
Below are a few takeaways that will help guide my work at The William Hinman Foundation, which supports community-based development through grantmaking inspired by Buddhist principles. I would also love to keep the conversation going, so feel free to contact me at Gallagher@hinmanfoundation.org.
- Grant dollars go a lot further when given overseas. Small grants can have a proportionately larger impact when given overseas rather than at home. This is due to the resourcefulness of grantee partners as well as the lower cost of goods and services overseas.
I heard many great stories about programs that creatively used limited resources to increase access to healthcare, address land tenure issues, or increase social entrepreneurship. If it fits within your foundation’s mission, adding an international small grants portfolio could significantly increase the impact of your work.
- The challenges of giving to a non-501(c)(3) can and should be overcome. With the increasingly global nature of nearly everything we do, our philanthropy should not be the place to draw the line. While it is important to ensure that grants serve a charitable purpose and comply with IRS guidelines, regulations should not prevent interested foundations from giving globally.
Many of the requirements of expenditure responsibility are already best practices of foundations. If, however, you’re doing expenditure responsibility for the first time with global giving – and to make sure you comply with anti-terrorism rules – it is recommended that you work with an experienced global giver or seek legal counsel the first time around. (To find an expert, see the ASF Professional Directory of Foundation Advisors).
- Creative grantmaking can be even more important when engaged in global giving. International grants can be challenging to monitor due to logistical and travel costs. Many foundations have overcome these difficulties through creative giving and working together.
Some foundations described how they have co-funded projects in order to pool resources and monitoring responsibilities. Others discussed the benefits of working with local or national governments through public-private partnerships. Local partnerships and grantee capacity building can also help to overcome the challenges of international grantmaking.
- Collaborations and leveraging funds are the way of the future…but how? Almost every panel stressed the importance of collaborating with other small foundations that share your ethos on giving and using social media to increase impact. Whether through partnerships or using online portals to solicit feedback or dollars, there is a clear trend toward working together to maximize social good.
While I am still grappling with how to identify new partners and increase engagement with our existing partners, I love the momentum for collaboration and hope that we can build on that interest with more specificity to help foundations maximize their impact on social good.
Overall, many people I met who were engaged in or exploring the possibility of global grantmaking agreed that we would like to see more charitable dollars directed toward communities overseas, as they can benefit greatly from the flexibility and creativity that is possible through philanthropy. We are eager to share our experiences, both positive and challenging, and be resources for one another.
For more on international grantmaking, see ASF resources including: Seven Global Grantmaking Myths, International Grantmaking: Opportunities for Small Foundations, and IRS Reduces International Giving Regulations. ASF members can connect with other international grantmakers through the ASF Member Directory.
Other good resources are International Grant Making: Funding with a Global View from GrantCraft and United States International Grantmaking from the Council on Foundations.
ASF member Mary Beth Gallagher is director of programs and operations at The William Hinman Foundation in Washington, DC.