Philanthropy: How to create lasting and positive change
“Philanthropy is neither an exact science nor social engineering. Donors must try out diverse interventions to test them and often be perseverant in their funding. It is especially true when funding advocacy and policy change in the environmental field for instance,” explains Luc Giraud–Guigues, who heads the philanthropy team at Lombard Odier.
“Although donating through a foundation or a fund provides more flexibility and freedom, it is worth connecting and exchanging with peers to check that solutions or interventions have not been already designed and can be replicated at a larger scale,” Luc continues.
Co-funding is also an efficient way to share the risks and the learning as well as leveraging financial and operational resources. However, it can sometimes be difficult to implement due to difference in priorities of funding, timing and a lack of appetite for coordination. These considerations mean that it is important to remember that the best projects depend on the quality and structure of the organisations running them.
Frequently overlooked by donors are the development needs of organisations and their capacities for action such as governance, management, technical requirements and adaptation to change. That said, deciding to invest in an association’s development, and not just its activities, also makes it possible to ensure its long-term autonomy, independence and growth.
Due diligence on a philanthropic initiative
The purpose of the due diligence is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the organisations and their programmes.
“Due diligence is a tool to help decision making and it is vital to ensure that donations are not wasted. It is also a necessary step to make an informed choice, similar to the analysis an investor does before taking a stake in a company.”
For every philanthropic project, a due diligence process consists of:
- a series of analysis of publicly available information on the charity and of additional documents that may be requested from the charity
- an in-depth interview with the charity management and/or programme lead person, and
- information collected from other funders or grant-making organisations.
“Deciding to fund a philanthropic initiative is based on an evaluation of risks taken. One could argue that it is the role of philanthropists to take the risk that public funders can’t take,” adds Luc.
Lombard Odier takes steps to help the asylum seekers
Faithful to a tradition of citizenship, Fondation Lombard Odier supported a local project to address the issue of social integration and youth unemployment among asylum seekers in April this year.
Nine philanthropic foundations from Geneva, including Fondation Lombard Odier, have jointly contributed CHF 430,000 to help the integration of unaccompanied young asylum seekers who have arrived here from Eritrea, Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria. The fund-raising effort was coordinated by SwissFoundations, the association of Swiss grant making foundations.
This pilot project, which runs from the beginning of April to the start of the school year in September, offers psychoeducational support, literacy courses, and socio-cultural activities to help the youngsters familiarise themselves with life in Switzerland.
The number of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in Geneva has risen from 40 in 2013 to more than 200 last year. The authorities in Geneva expect hundreds more young people, aged 15-18, to arrive over the next few months. These young people, fleeing conflict in their home countries, require a support system over and above the arrangements currently in place.
“Thanks to our membership of SwissFoundations, we jointly identified the need and decided to act together. An evaluation of the efficacy of the programme is planned in September,” says Luc. “It will hopefully provide data for the State government, demonstrating the value of early integration of the refugee children.”
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