The Changing Ecosystem of Philanthropies in International Development

Published on 27 September 2023

The changing role of philanthropy in international development is driven by shifts in international aid practices and shifts within philanthropy itself. The growing emphasis on development goals such as access to basic services and funding global public goods, in addition to advancing economic development, has led to a proliferation of new actors in development and new tools for aid (Severino and Ray 2009). There is a push to include foundations in development cooperation frameworks (OECD 2003; European Foundation Centre 2006; Bishop 2007; Kharas 2007; Kramer 2007; Lundsgaarde 2011a) and foundations have played a critical role in financing global public goods, particularly in health (Sulla 2007; European Foundation Centre 2006; Sridhar and Batniji 2008; Lundsgaarde 2011b).

The new actors create new governance problems and the new tools create new
dilemmas in measuring development results. The most prominent new actors are foundations created by high net worth individuals, the largest and most influential of which is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundations’ influence can partly be attributed to their focus on a narrow set of areas – a strategy that parallels the evolution of high-profile advocates in international development. The economic growth in BRICS countries has led to the emergence of BRICS governments as aid donors, not just aid recipients. Wealthy individuals and families have also begun to set up private foundations.

Cite this publication

Watson, N (2012) 'The changing ecosystem of philanthropies in international development' Bellagio Initiative, Brighton: IDS

Publication details

published by
Watson, Noshua


Related content