As the landscape of giving evolves in the region, there has been a transition from the traditional donations made by individual philanthropic donors, towards greater institutionalisation. While private personal giving continues to be an important source of financing for grantees and beneficiaries in the region, these actors are now giving through an increasingly diverse range of family foundations and social investment initiatives, including established foundations or new philanthropic ventures as well as corporate vehicles.
Yet it still remains that many of these self-sufficient “private foundations” that do not generally seek funding from the general public, companies or government carry out their work in confidence. While discretion is a traditional characteristic of giving in the Gulf Region, the public has higher expectations for organisations and individuals whose missions are to do good. People want to learn more about their activities, missions, goals, impact, and the outcomes produced.
Transparency, however, is not just about releasing information for public consumption. It can be a real tool for donors, corporate or individual, to increase their impact through more accurate self-assessments and public engagement.
As more grant-making organisations publish information on their activities and where funds are flowing, it minimises the duplication of efforts while also identifying geographic and thematic gaps in funding.
Not only will this promote greater impact and effectiveness of giving but will also reinforce trust between donors and their stakeholder communities.
Transparency is not a one-size-fits-all equation. What is comfortable for one organisation may not be comfortable, realistic, or appropriate for another. The best transparency policies will be those guided by an organisation’s mission, catered to its supporters and potential supporters, and considerate of the organisation’s strategy and needs.
The roundtable discussion convened high-level corporate and family business leaders across the Gulf Region to challenge current understandings of transparency highlighting the value, opportunities and challenges of implementing higher standards of transparency in giving.
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