Posted on December 30, 2008
2008: Global Philanthropy Edges Toward Spotlight
PND - 2008: Year in Review — Global Philanthropy Edges Toward the Spotlight
With violence in Iraq declining, the global media turned its attention in 2008 to spectacle (the Beijing Olympics), disaster (Myanmar and China), and the possibility of a worldwide economic meltdown. Meanwhile, a small but growing number of U.S. foundations continued to focus on long-term issues plaguing the developing world, including hunger, disease, and poverty.
The year opened with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announcing grants totaling more than $300 million to projects designed to boost the yields and incomes of millions of farmers in Africa and other parts of the developing world. The grants, which included a $164.5 million grant to the Alliance for a Green Revolution — a partnership between Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation — nearly doubled the dollar amount of the investments in agriculture made by the Gates Foundation since the 2006 launch of its Agricultural Development initiative. In March, the foundation partnered with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation on a $47 million initiative to develop drought-tolerant maize varieties for Africa. And in September, again in partnership with the Buffett Foundation, the foundation announced the creation of Purchase for Progress (P4P), an initiative to help poor farmers in the developing world significantly increase their incomes by transforming the way the UN World Food Program purchases food.
In the area of public health, Gates again led the charge, pledging $500 million in July in partnership with New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to combat the global tobacco epidemic and $169 million in September to PATH's Malaria Vaccine Initiative, which is working to develop next-generation vaccines for the disease. Though several significant challenges to the global eradication of malaria remain, a World Health Organization report found that progress has been made, thanks in part to increased distribution of malaria-reducing mosquito nets in the developing world by the Nothing But Nets campaign and others.
Indeed, cautious optimism was the prevailing mood despite the deepening economic gloom. On the education front, the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa — an effort of Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Ford, MacArthur, Rockefeller, Hewlett, Mellon, and Kresge foundations — committed $350 million to select universities in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda, while reaffirming its commitment to higher education on the continent beyond 2010. Significant commitments to foster opportunities for women and girls throughout the developing world also were announced by Goldman Sachs and the Nike, NoVo, and Gates foundations.
As it has in the past, the Clinton Global Initiative generated a huge number of pledges — $8 billion — to alleviate poverty, combat climate change, and improve public health and education at its annual meeting in September. And a new report from the Foundation Center and the Council on Foundations suggested that U.S. foundation giving for international purposes in 2008 was on track to surpass the previous high of $5.4 billion, reached in 2007.
Still, the global recession was a source of growing concern as the year came to an end. Against that backdrop, it was Bill — Gates, not Clinton — who, during a speech at George Washington University in early December, reminded his audience of the historic opportunity at hand. "If you look at the stock market, business activity, or budget deficits, things are dark," said Gates. "But if you consider our capacities and opportunities, our passion and vision, the outlook is bright. We can keep moving toward a world where every child grows up in good health, goes to a good school, and has opportunities waiting — as long as we stay confident about the future and keep investing in it."
Global Health Should Be Key Component of U.S. Foreign Policy, Report Finds (12/17/08)
Measles Initiative Announces Significant Drop in Measles Deaths Worldwide (12/9/08)
International Giving by Foundations Reached $5.4 Billion in 2007, Report Finds (12/5/08)
Bill Gates Urges Congress, President-Elect to Honor Commitments, Improve Lives (12/4/08)
Global Partnerships Launches $20 Million Microfinance Fund (11/20/08)
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria Awards Record $2.75 Billion (11/13/08)
Gates Urges Wealthy Nations Not to Cut Aid for World's Poor (11/7/08)
Gates Foundation Awards $10.4 Million to Develop Novel Ideas in Global Health (10/23/08)
Foundations Affirm Commitment to African Universities Beyond 2010 (10/07/08)
Gates Foundation Commits $169 Million to PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (9/26/08)
World Food Program, Gates, Buffett Foundations Launch Initiative to Help World's Farmers (9/25/08)
Gates Foundation to Invest in Savings Programs for World's Poor (8/01/08)
Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Commit $500 Million to Global Anti-Tobacco Campaign (7/24/08)
Nothing But Nets Campaign Grows in Popularity (6/03/08)
NIKE, NoVo Foundation Commit $100 Million to the Girl Effect (5/28/08)
Gates, Howard Buffett Foundations Fund Public-Private Partnership for African Farmers (3/21/08)
Goldman Sachs Launches $100 Million Initiative to Teach Business to Women in Developing World (3/07/08)
Effort to Eradicate Malaria Faces Significant Challenges (3/05/08)
Gates Foundation Awards $19 Million to Foster Women's Empowerment in West Africa (2/26/08)
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Launches Corporate Champions Program (1/29/08)
Google.org Announces Initiatives to Combat Climate Change, Poverty, Emerging Threats (1/18/08)