PQMD Forum Summary Challenge Panel 5: Global Philanthropy: Platitudes or Progress

Panel description: What elements from the current global frameworks will help us advance a paradigm shift for implementing more effective donation programs worldwide to improve disaster relief response and recovery and long-term access to health and reliable health service delivery for underserved communities?

Chair: Jane Nelson, Harvard University


  • Gabrielle Fitzgerald, CEO, Panorama
  • Bruce Wilkinson, CEO, CMMB
  • Veronica Arroyave, Executive Director, Baxter Foundation
  • Steven Lovink, CEO, Power of One

 Jane Nelson asked panelists the key trends in the way philanthropy is evolving that creates either an opportunity or challenge for our ability to improve access to medicines and health care and support global development.

Gabrielle Fitzgerald believes PQMD represents collaborative philanthropy. Philanthropists collaborate among themselves and coordinate for results. Neutral communities of practice come together, pulling different stakeholders together. To accomplish complex things, you need neutral arbiters to hold/pull things together.

The breaking of silos between climate and healthcare communities is not happening enough, as climate and healthcare are operating in parallel. It is important to strengthen and build across issues for long term resilience and preparedness and for humanitarian and crisis response.

Gabrielle Fitzgerald, CEO of Panorama, shares her thoughts during the Global Philanthropy: Platitudes or Progress challenge panel.

Bruce Wilkinson from CMMB stated we are at a place where the terms philanthropy and charity are being thought of differently. We are motivated out of charity, recognizing the need of others verses motivated to restore what we had before. People are changing behaviors, choosing employers, volunteering and giving out of a sense of resiliency. People feel they must do something. The agency is crescendo-ing at this time in the face of information that is self-reinforcing. They are making it clear that the time to act is now, and driving the need to give back. People feel complicit in the issue. Those who are least prepared and least able will suffer the impact of climate change ahead.

Arroyave said that whether an organization labels it as philanthropy, corporate responsibility, strategic giving, what we are all moving toward is a collective agenda, a collaborative agenda. Cross sectoral nature of the work that we do. It’s a muscle PQMD has been building as it convenes, connects, thinks proactively, collaborate and coordinate. She questioned how do we connect the dots? How do we connect? Which dot are we? How do we make our dot important? What dot do we need to connect to? How do we maximize our assets? How do we use all of our assets to tell the best story?  The challenge is, Arroyave said, are we working to create a program or eliminate a disease? We do have opportunities to connect our work to the SDGs.

Nelson asked what more we could be doing to increase resilience and advance the long term development agenda. Arroyave shared a something Direct Relief’s Thomas Tighe told her – “We all want more coordination, but no one wants to be coordinated unless we are the coordinator.” How do we get the coordination to get us to collaboration?

Steven Lovink from OneSource said collaboration is important. Millennials are going to decide what to do with investable assets and how they will be directed. The definition of philanthropy is to unleash the creativity of human potential. Lovink outlined the sources of the total global giving of $400 billion per year: 79% by individuals, 15% by foundations, NGOS, etc., and 5% by corporations. We have an obligation to consider how we are giving. Crisis will increase exponentially (climate, health, etc.). How much are we investing in the future and transforming our ways of addressing the future? Despite all the telltale signs we are not changing our ways. Now is time to support the work to bring groups together to think about this. And to define a meta vision and push this forward.

Nelson asked what the global development community needs to do to become more effective in building stronger collective action and alliances among public sector donors, governments, foundations and companies to achieve great scale and impact. Fitzgerald said political leaders will listen to a PQMD which represents to many elements of their constituency. Wilkinson said politicians listen to those who vote, and we cannot underestimate the surge of interest in millennials regarding human capita, the future, healthcare quality and access. Millennials are an audience politicians have to listen to – they are a growing constituency. Arroyave stated companies are great political advocates of health care with great resources. There is an opportunity to capitalize on commitment, capacity, and context. We need to better communicate up to company leadership – to create the interest, and for leadership to want to be in that space. Then we determine how best to better work with partners. Arroyave also pointed out there is more opportunity in the philanthropic space for corporations to collaborate and share, as they are not competing in the philanthropic space.

Lovink said it is great to unleash an entrepreneurial revolution that comes together to advance solutions to quickly get us on the right path. Impact investing is important. We would see gains if individuals received a tax break on philanthropic activity. Lovink also pointed out that blockchain/data philanthropy is extremely important. We must think through how we can harness currencies that can be backed by the goals we are trying to achieve. There are 1,200,000 NGOs in the United States. Consolidation is needed in the NGO space to concentrate intermediary effectiveness. Capacity should be built for civil society in order to harness their voice for advocacy.

As the panel concluded, panelists shared their belief that PQMD should further explore advocacy work. PQMD could mobilize commitment for transformation and become a problem solver. PQMD should use common metrics to build a common language and build political will. Advocacy can us one of the best tools for behavioral change.