Tag Archives: UNHCR

Fundraising in the Middle East: How, Why and What?

People give.

Wherever you are, at whatever time in history, you will see people giving to help others. Poor people give, rich people give, young and old give.

Our role as professionals in fundraising is to mediate the giving, to help people find the cause that best fits their vision of how the world should be. We help people to structure and organise their giving, show how they are making a change to the lives of others, and stand as guarantors for the honesty and impact of our organisations.

That is what is happening in the Middle East and across the Arabic-speaking world. Ancient traditions of personal philanthropy – a cultural norm and a religious requirement – are evolving rapidly thanks to the work of philanthropists, governments and rulers…and fundraisers.

I’m giving a Masterclass with UNHCR’s Reem Abdelhamid on fundraising in the Middle East, at the International Fundraising Congress, 18-21 October, Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands

A LOT OF WORLD

The total population of the Arabic-speaking world – the 22 nations of the League of Arab States – is 392m people (5% of the world’s population), of whom one-third are under 15 years old. Despite the horrors of war and of the forced movements of people – the stuff we see in our news media – the region is developing the social and cultural infrastructures that allow fundraising to evolve; education, taxation, financial systems, the legal and fiscal formalisation of charities and foundations, and personal wealth.

Fundraisers get a rush of blood to the head at the phrase ‘personal wealth.’ We have stereotype pictures of fabulously rich individuals dropping millions into the hands of eager fundraisers in Europe’s leading universities and museums. But that is only a small part of the story. Because personal wealth is spreading outward into a growing middle class, who are becoming the day-to-day donors of national and international organisations.

WHAT NOT TO DO

This is the third consecutive year when we have had IFC workshops or Masterclasses on fundraising in the Arabic-speaking world. Each time, we have learned a little more about how to operate in the region – and what not to do.

NOT A CASH MACHINE

Reem Abdelhamid, UNHCR Advisor for Private Sector Partnerships in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, warned early in the series that the region is not a cash-machine. No-one should be planning to hit the streets of Jeddah or Dubai, raise lots of money, and head off.

As UNHCR and other INGOs have found, the Arabic-speaking world requires – just like any other region – careful research, planning, long-term investment and clear links between the donor and the social or environmental problem they are solving.

IT’S NOT ONE PLACE

You would not treat Europe, Latin America, or Asia as one homogeneous region. The same is true of the Arabic-speaking world, where the fundraising that you might do in Kuwait is different from that you would do in Egypt. In part this is because a significant part of the region is a historic area of transit between Europe and Asia – so there are different mixtures of cultures, religions, languages, and thus of philanthropy in different states, and even in different cities. To get a clearer idea of the variation across the region, read the publications from The John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy & Civic Engagement at the American University of Cairo.

THINK LOCAL

To make sense of the region you are going to need local help. Houssam Chahin, who has years of experience in the region first with Greenpeace then with UNHCR, stresses the importance of recruiting and developing local teams. This is no different from opening a branch in Germany or Japan; you need people who not only speak the language but who understand the culture and know the market. People who know why this Sheikha is important, and who understand why she might not want to meet you but would meet a female colleague instead. People who can cope with the contradictions that emerge in any developing market, and who can help your organisation steer its way around the legal restrictions that may appear.

POLICY MATCH

In Western Europe we are used to the idea that NGOs challenge governments – campaigning for freedoms, rights and the environment. You are not going to get a warm welcome if you enter the Arabic-speaking region on a campaign ticket. Just reverse the situation and imagine a Kuwaiti foundation opening an office in Europe to campaign against – to pick a ridiculous example – vegetarianism, and you will see why. The developing states of the region have national plans and priorities, and philanthropy, especially strategic philanthropy or ‘major donors’ is often aligned to these priorities, so your fundraising is going to be aligned that way too.

COME AND FIND OUT MORE

The Arabic-speaking world and within that, the Middle East, is a fascinating, fast-changing, challenging environment for fundraising, with huge potential. Come and join Reem Abdelhamid and me for our Masterclass on ‘Fundraising in the Middle East: How, Why and What?’ at IFC 2016, or one of our workshops that will focus on key issues in fundraising in the region.

But do it now; there are only two places left on the Masterclass!

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A Window on Philanthropy in Italy

Another window on high-value philanthropy just opened in Italy thanks to UNHCR and Gruppo Kairos, a private banking and wealth management firm. In March, UNHCR published the results of a survey carried out with the finance firm. I am grateful to Giovanna Li Perni at UNHCR for a copy of the report, and for her presentation of the results at last week’s Festival del Fundraising.

During October-November 2015 Kairos asked its HNWI clients to complete a questionnaire; 91 of them, 44% women, 56% men, did so. This is not therefore a balanced representative sample of people of wealth in Italy (so we cannot safely extrapolate the results) but does give us at least some insight into how this group of people reacted. The group included a wide range of wealth levels from €1m to more than €30m, and a spread of age groups with, as you would expect, a bias toward middle age and older (85% were aged 46 or over). Almost all of the group were donors – 91% had made at least one donation to a social cause in the previous year (against 26% of the general population). The percentage who gave rose with increasing wealth, reaching 100% of people with wealth over €30m.

When asked about their largest gift during 2015 to any one organisation, most reported €5,000, with 73% of women giving at this level and 49% of men. Older people tended to give more, so 22% of the over-65s gave €25,000 and 11% gave €50,000. Of course these people were giving to a number of organisations, so 30% of this older group gave away a total of between €50,000-€100,000 in 2015.

Asked about the causes to which they made their largest gift in 2015, 21% chose scientific or medical research, 19% favoured children’s causes, and 16% poverty in Italy. Importantly for UNHCR, 10% chose help and protection for refugees as their top cause. 62% gave principally to causes in Italy.

Why did they give?

More than half (52%) said that their main reason for giving was because they felt privileged. 26% said it was giving made them feel useful. Interestingly just 4% of donors said that they gave because of their religious values, with 9% saying that they want to change things, to make a difference and the same percentage saying that they gave to continue a family tradition of philanthropy.

In choosing a non-profit, two major reasons stood out; the cause, and ‘transparency of the organisation and exhaustive documentation on results.’ This focus on transparency is interesting and is part of a trend we can see across Europe toward greater transparency in the non-profit sector. New laws (for example, in Holland) and new organisations (for example Fundación Lealtad in Spain) are encouraging this trend toward transparency.

Italians will tell you that business in the country is based on personal connections, and it seems that this might be true for philanthropy also. It is certainly the case for this group of philanthropists, who say that the most common channel for hearing about the organisations they support is via their personal network (28% of respondents, the largest single group), while 15% say that they chose the cause because they knew the leader of the organisation in person.

What does this tell us about strategy?

The information in this report is gathered from the clients of one bank, so we should be careful about extrapolating from it. But given that there is almost nothing else available on HNWI philanthropy in the Italian market, we might at least test some conclusions.

The research should help push up the pricing of ‘major donor’ programmes. Individuals responding to this survey have made gifts in excess of €100,000 to single organisations, and 20% of them have made gifts of €25,000 or more. We can even venture a Gift Capacity calculation for this group, defining ‘Gift Capacity’ as ‘The largest total gift that one person could give to any one cause, in ideal conditions, over five years’ (see my previous blog on this topic.) Five of the respondents with net worth of €5-€10m made gifts to single organisations of €100,000 or more, between 1% and 2% of their net worth.

The research makes the case for prospect research. It shows that personal networks are the means by which these HNWIs have been reached by their non-profit partners, and that these networks are their primary source of information. Prospect research has the tools to identify personal networks. Sadly, the number of prospect researchers in Italy is still in single figures.

This research was carried out in partnership with Gruppo Kairos, and we have here a strategic clue that a number of NGOs in Europe are starting to follow up. Private wealth managers and bankers are increasingly interested in philanthropy, and we would all do well to focus more attention on this key group of intermediaries.

This is the second year in which UNHCR and Kairos have carried out this study, and the plan is to continue the annual series; another opening window on the world of HNWI philanthropy in Europe.