WAM ABU DHABI, 13th November, 2013 (WAM)–On the back of the Emirates Foundation Philanthropy Summit (EFPS) held in Abu Dhabi from 12-13 November, two of the region’s most prominent philanthropic entities, Emirates Foundation and the Society of Majid Bin Abdulaziz for Development and Social Services (the Majid Society) of Saudi Arabia, signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding as a first step towards establishing a regional Working Group to promote more effective philanthropy.
These two GCC Foundations announced that they plan to engage other GCC philanthropists to establish a formal Working Group to help develop capability in the sector. The MOU is the product of several months of discussions between the two organizations about how Gulf Foundations can share Ã¯ØŸ ½lessons learned’ to drive a more impactful approach to creating social value.
The Majid Society and Emirates Foundation uphold that sectoral collaboration is key to ensuring continuous learning and for creating impact at scale.
Speaking at the event Clare Woodcraft, CEO of Emirates Foundation said "We are delighted at the prospect of partnering with the Majid Society and also to working more closely with other GCC counterparts. We both believe that the efficient deployment of philanthropic capital is critical if we are to successfully address some of the pressing social issues of our time and notably that of youth." Woodcraft went on to say "Emirates Foundation underwent a transition in 2012 to shift from being a grant based organization to being an operational one. We also phased out time-bound projects and now only have a small focused portfolio of long-term programs. We are very willing to share the lessons learned of this transition and keen to hear from others about what works and what doesn’t." Hammam Zare, General Manager of the Majid Society said that both organizations had a similar perspective on the importance of running philanthropic entities efficiently in order to use precious resources wisely and maximize social impact. "We are equally focused on ensuring really tangible outcomes for our target beneficiaries," The MOU will allow both organisations to work together to create a Working Group that will focus on the Ã¯ØŸ ½how’ (the tools) of philanthropy rather than the Ã¯ØŸ ½what’ (the sector focus). In other words participants will discuss issues such as the most effective philanthropic financial tools, how to effectively measure social return on investment, how to recruit and train philanthropists and how to build greater operational efficiency. Equally areas of interest for regional philanthropists might include the current regulatory framework for best leveraging philanthropic capital, how to manage institutional versus individual investors and how to build regional philanthropic capacity.
Woodcraft explained that the Working Group would meet on a quarterly basis and members would put forward a proposed topic, dates and venue for each meeting. The host organisation would then share the outcomes of the meeting via social media and other channels with other GCC foundations. Thus there would be no financial commitment required from members but rather a resource-commitment in the form of being able to host. The Working Group will be formally launched in 2014 now that the two entities have finalized a MOU.
Other outcomes from the Summit included the announcement that the UAE will host the 2015 Child and Youth Finance International Summit in Abu Dhabi. Emirates Foundation has been working closely with the international NGO Child and Youth Finance International and has its own dedicated Financial Literacy program for youth Esref Sah – or Ã¯ØŸ ½Spend Right’ in Arabic. Hosting the Summit in the UAE will allow Emirates Foundation to unite with other like-minded global organisations to share ideas about best practice in relation to helping young people manage their personal finance more effectively.
The launch of the initial findings of the OECD’s global foundation network, NetFWD’s research report Venture Philanthropy: Dynamics, Challenges and Lessons in the Search for Greater Impact generated much interest from regional foundations in joining the group. Bathylle Missika Deputy Head, Policy Dialogue, OECD NetFWD said "We are delighted to see that there is some very progressive philanthropic work in the Arab world – we would love to see more regional foundations join NetFWD to be able to share Ã¯ØŸ ½lessons learned’ with their global counterparts." Woodcraft confirmed that "many of the participants have told us that they really appreciate the opportunity to talk to their regional counterparts and that such opportunities are rare. Given the demand for such a platform, we have decided to make this an annual platform for sharing ideas not just from the Arab world but also across the globe. We look forward to welcoming everyone back next year." WAM/MN