Development finance standards

The role of philanthropy in financing for development



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As a source of financing and innovation, private philanthropy has been an integral part of the development landscape. The OECD collects and publishes data on private philanthropy for development, alongside its statistics on official development finance and ODA in particular. This information can inform evidence-based development co-operation policies and promote multi-stakeholder partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Private philanthropy for sustainable development, 2018-20

• Private philanthropy for sustainable development has been growing over time. In 2020, over 40 of the largest private philanthropic foundations provided almost USD 10 billion in support of developing countries. In 2021, private grants for development reached almost USD 11 billion.

• Countries in Eastern and Western Africa and in South Asia received the largest volumes of philanthropic finance in 2018-20, although nearly half of philanthropic grants have had a geographically unspecified scope (e.g. research on neglected tropical diseases).

• 56% of private philanthropy targeted health and population policies, followed by civil society development and human rights, agriculture and education.

• Good health and well-being (SDG 3), partnerships (SDG 17), no poverty (SDG 1), reduced inequalities (SDG 10) and gender equality (SDG 5) were among the most targeted SDGs by private providers.

• Most private philanthropy is channelled through non-government organisations (NGOs) and research institutes, earmarked to projects or programmes.

Read data and analysis

Statistics on private philanthropy for development

Cover Philanthropy for Development‌‌‌‌‌‌‌

How to access the data?

Activity-level data on private philanthropy for development can be downloaded using the links below:

  • Private Philanthropy for Development (CRS), a specific dataset including all activities of philanthropic foundations aimed at sustainable development;
  • Creditor Reporting System (CRS), the comprehensive dataset on resource flows to developing countries from official bilateral and multilateral organisations – including ODA – as well as from private philanthropic foundations. Data on activities from foundations can be found under the flow category “Private Development Finance”. This database excludes core/assessed contributions to multilateral organisations.

The CRS is a multi-dimensional and activity-level database which includes information on resource flows by provider, partner country, socio-economic sector, financial instrument, flow type, aid type, amount type and others. Filters and dimensions can be personalised through “Customise” > “Layout”. Activity-level information is accessible by clicking on any of the underlined figure in the result table. The whole dataset (activity-level data) can be downloaded under “Export” > “Related files”.

The OECD statistics include project-level information from 41 of the largest private philanthropic foundations working for development. Data reported by these philanthropies are standardised using the same statistical standards and definitions as ODA. Until 2017, only the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation shared this information with the OECD. This makes the OECD statistics a unique source of information on private philanthropy for development. They are also a key source of information for the OECD Centre on Philanthropy.

This flyer highlights some of the main statistical trends from the latest data for 2018-19. See also this brochure on 2017-18 data.

Private philanthropy for development SDG13: Climate action

Over recent years, private philanthropic foundations have largely stepped up their financing towards climate action in developing countries. Led by the Bezos Earth Fund, BMGF and CIFF, private foundations provided over USD 1.5 billion for climate action in developing countries in 2020


Profiles of private philanthropic providers

The digital edition of the provider profiles offers detailed insights on financial expenditures and development programmes of a broad range of providers, including the philanthropic foundations. They include analyses and visualisations on foundations’ bilateral and multilateral allocations, sectoral distributions, SDG focus, geographic allocation as well as contributions to gender equality and global environmental objectives. The profiles are available for each foundation individually, as well as the philanthropies as a provider group.

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