They can help international players with no in-country presence navigate the local political economy and identify strong partners on the frontlines. This is especially true in the education sector, as it is domestic foundations’ most funded sector.
For example, in Colombia, domestic foundations supported education above all other sectors, with US$221 million between 2013 and 2018, or 37% of total domestic philanthropic giving. In South Africa, this proportion was as high as 58% (US$266 million) for the same period.
4. Foundations are uniquely placed to catalyze partnerships
Saying that private foundations are enablers of collaboration is not a new trend per se. But what ongoing network analysis reveals is that education foundations’ collaborative network of partners is deep and wide, ranging from civil society, and grassroots movements, to the private sector, multilateral organizations and local and national government, as well as strong ties with other education donors.
New data is demonstrating that education foundations increasingly mobilize this type of assets in support of their grantees and partners’ financial sustainability by, for example, facilitating connections with other private or international donors, or brokering local government adoption of proven solutions when possible.
The education philanthropic sector is undoubtedly changing fast and diversifying roles and levels of ambition. Foundations are engaging in advocacy to influence policy and social change, producing knowledge through monitoring and evaluation, connecting communities, and working towards financial sustainability for their grantees and partners.
Broader ambitions in impact and scale however come with challenges, not the least in light of existing concerns on the accountability and legitimacy of philanthropy in public policy change.
The philanthropic sector in general, and education philanthropy in particular, still have some way to go to increase transparency, adhere to high-quality standards of monitoring and evaluation, explore connections with the fast-evolving funding ecosystems in developing countries, and translate the collaboration intent into a sustained practice of engagement with governments, ODA donors and local stakeholders.