The Expression of Religion and Identity in International Funding: Gauging Levels of Awareness

The Expression of Religion and Identity in International Funding: Gauging Levels of Awareness

Rebecca Nicholson (8th House Elan, USA)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3665-0.ch006
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Donor preference is a significant component that can either promote or inhibit sustainable development results, yet the involvement of private donors in international development work has not yet been examined in academic literature. Models for integrative negotiation in funding processes have been proposed, but without having the voice of donors present in literature, all previous negotiation models are incomplete because a major party to the negotiation is absent from the model. Conflict analysis and resolution is a new approach that will bring clarity to the role of private donors in international development work and generate integrative solutions for donors to employ in their work should they choose. This phenomenographic study analyzed the content, process, identity, and relational aspects of conflict in private international development projects through the viewpoint of donors. The research goals were to (1) generate understanding about how private donors understand their role in the international development work they fund, (2) ascertain how donors experience conflict in the course of this work, and (3) determine which conflict resolution techniques can be integrated to align their intentions, resources, and outcomes more accurately. The purposive snowball sample was comprised of six donors who fund private international work outside the US. The interrelated culmination of knowledge generated from this study demonstrates a broad landscape of experiences that describe how donors experience conflict and what may motivate them to consider alternative behaviors that can change the course of their work.
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One of the key components of effective humanitarian assistance is sustainability. In light of the changing discourse surrounding development work, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government agencies are confusing relief programs with sustainable development. Relief is immediate and temporary assistance given to people in emergency situations. These programs are typically short lived, perhaps one fiscal year, and end when another global situation is deemed more urgent. When national economies budget around foreign aid, their immediate priorities shift to what is not being funded, and what is being provided for in aid falls to the wayside (, 2009; Kaplan, 2006). For example, relief emergency health care provided to post-war Liberia postponed the development of a health care infrastructure (World Health Organization, 2005; World Health Organization, 2006; World Health Organization, 2009; US Department of State, 2009; US Agency on International Development, 2005). Relief programs help in the short term- term, but can actually be detrimental when they detract public attention from domestic issues that need to be handled at the policy level. However, relief efforts are easy to count and gain quick public support.

Studies that examine philanthropic giving have been undertaken largely by those in the professional field of philanthropy. Existing studies that examine philanthropic giving have been conducted almost solely by people who work in the field of professional philanthropy. These studies are premised on the notion that money should be spent however the donor sees fit; and this premise inherently assumes that philanthropists are entitled to be part of the development process regardless of their credentials. Their work is usually focused on sustaining foundations themselves, without mention of the people who have to live with the outcome of the foundation’s choices. Private donors develop strategies that reflect their own interests and mirror the actions of larger institutions, but researchers have yet to learn how philanthropists understand their position in the development process. Motivation among private donors as it pertains to sustainable development is conflicting at best. Participation in philanthropic activity ranges from sharing a family activity to holding a deep commitment to human rights. While these motivations are not mutually exclusive, they do vary according to the source of the funding.. Donor motives and intentionality are largely misrepresented or unclear and how individuals reconcile this seeming disparity is not clear.

Some important initial questions to ask are why funding entities become involved in the development process in the first place, and what do they have to gain from their involvement? Although humanitarian aid started in a different place, programs are now increasingly subject to the influences of hegemonic principles and capitalistic notions (Mitlin, et al., 2007). This almost sounds sinister until one considers the explicit motivations for why governments, foundations, and individuals give aid money and participate in development activities. The literature addresses the motivations and utility of international entities, private philanthropists, and NGOs involvement in development work, and several problematic aspects become evident. Each party has divergent utility and incentive to be involved in humanitarian development work, and little of the utility and few of the incentives are focused on the people who have to live with the outcomes of the work. Elite discourse dominates the discussion about international development and perpetuates control of resources in a way that does not benefit poor people (Adam & O’Connell, 1999), reflecting the transference of values from rich countries to poor countries.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sustainability: The prolonged life of a program in the field of international development. In its truest sense, sustainability indicates the ability of a program to empower people so that the program is no longer necessary and the population served is able to maintain and flourish from the temporary benefits produced by the initial program. Variation exists in how the terms is applied, though: For NGOs, sustainability can also mean the organization’s ability to secure funding.

Recipient: A person, group, receiving something from another party in the parameters of philanthropy. Can refer to an NGO that has received funding. In this study, doors referred to themselves as the recipients (of joy through their giving).

Beneficiary: Individual or population is the intended end receiver or user of a program enabled by grantmaking. Although the most affected, this party has the least relative power and is often the least consulted or represented in the grantmaking process.

Philanthropy Roundtable: Washington DC-based organization comprised of foundations who make grants in the amount of $250,000 per year or more. This organization is involved in educating policy makers about philanthropic interests, of which the author took part while working in professional philanthropy.

Professional Philanthropy: The professional industry comprised of board directors, staff, consultants who have varying qualifications, levels of experience and expertise on subject matter relating to domestic and international programs for which they make decisions. No credentialing nor uniform method of skill or knowledge are required for the field of professional philanthropy. The author worked briefly in professional philanthropy as a Director of Special Projects.

Exponent Philanthropy: Organization based in Washington DC that holds conference and serves as a peer reference organization for foundations with few or no staff members.

Donor Intent: Legal term referring to guidelines for grantmaking that honor the wishes of a deceased.

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