Enhancing the Effectiveness of Giving
Enhancing the Effectiveness of Giving
Author: Lamia Adi

In line with the Year of Giving in 2017, Dubai implemented the Endowment Law to enable the charitable acts of individuals and businesses in the UAE. The law stipulates that private companies can now apply for the Endowment Sign from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Global Centre for Endowment Consultancy, which will enable them to carry out their humanitarian, cultural, scientific and developmental agendas.

This is a creative reinterpretation of the traditional understanding of endowments in the region. With the new law, companies are encouraged to endow services and products, as opposed to assets. Moreover, the Endowment Law has the capacity to change the way people view giving in the UAE and perhaps shift the trend from spontaneous cash donations, to more regular grant making. According to the Arab Giving Survey 2016, more than half of the respondents report that they engage in spontaneous as opposed to regular donations. The introduction of this new law could shift the scale to more regular and strategic donations.

The role of governance

Launched in September 2017, the Pearl Initiative’s latest programme, ‘Governance in the Philanthropic and Non-Profit Sector’, addresses the benefits of moving towards a more institutionalised approach to giving, as well as the benefits of adopting better governance practices within the sector. With the introduction of the Endowment Law and the increasing number of stakeholders involved, it is imperative for all players to be transparent and accountable in their philanthropic activities.

Aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of giving, both from the perspectives of donors and implementers, the programme is researching the current approaches adopted by the sector and share governance best practices. Thus far, the Pearl Initiative hosted focus group discussions in Dubai, Kuwait and Riyadh to gather information on areas of improvement for the sector. Due to the diverse backgrounds of the participants, they were able to share perspectives of both the institutionalised donors, as represented by corporations and family businesses, as well as the implementers that are represented by foundations and non-profit organisations.

The way forward: transparency and reporting

Highlighted in all three discussions is the need for, and value of, better reporting and transparency in the sector. Streamlining the reporting process is essential for the assessment of the impact of programmes and activities led by philanthropic and non-profit organisations. The roundtable and workshop scheduled in 2018 will address these issues and provide practical information on how reporting can be improved so donors can make informed decisions and organisations can track their impact.

In addition, the Pearl Initiative launched an online survey to understand the current state and trends within the philanthropic and non-profit sector in the Gulf Region. The results of the survey will be shared in a regional report to highlight the current governance practices, the opportunities and challenges in adopting best practices and the impact it may have on the important work of organisations in this sector.

Convening for change

The programme seeks to create a platform to proactively discuss governance frameworks for foundations and organisations operating in the Gulf Region. Moreover, it will bring together thought leaders in the philanthropic, corporate giving and non-profit sector to assess current trends in the region and highlight best governance practices in the sector.

Join us at our “Excellence in Philanthropy” round table on 25 February 2018 in Dubai with our distinguished speakers and gain valuable insight on the value of institutional philanthropy and the implications of good governance practices on enhancing the effectiveness of giving. Register here.

To learn more about the programme and upcoming activities, please visit our programme webpage.

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