andy Frain 120

Andy Frain

Former Campaigns and Public Affairs Manager

Charities Aid Foundation

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What could international development look like post-Brexit?

Today in the House of Commons, MPs will debate the UK’s future relationship with the EU in matters relating to international aid. This is a huge opportunity to remind our Members of Parliament about the importance of a strong civil society and to show that the UK still has a key role to play in strengthening these systems both domestically and globally after our exit from the European Union.

There is huge potential for the UK to promote sustainable, domestic international development through cementing a strong voice for civil society in countries which look to the UK to set an example, and we want to continue our successful work to ensure the UK continues to be one of the world’s oldest and most vibrant civil societies.

We want MPs to commit to include measures to strengthen civil societies as part of the UK’s work internationally and to maintain our role as a world leader in capacity building and empowering emerging nations as we leave the EU.

What is changing?

The world is experiencing huge economic transformation, as billions of people are expected to join the middle classes by 2030, and their spending power expected to almost double from $34 trillion to $64 trillion annually in that time. Research by CAF has shown that, based on OECD projections, a potential $350 billion a year could potentially be given to good cases by 2030 if these newly middle-class people were to be encouraged to give the same proportion of their income to charitable causes as the average person in the UK does, at 0.54%. 

This figure shows the huge potential for sustainable, long term development that growing a culture of giving globally poses. The sum that could be unlocked for good causes globally is more than double the record $147 billion given in Overseas Development Aid by the 35 OECD countries and would fill the UN’s 2017 shortfall 17 times over.

There are, however, a number of other barriers that stand in the way of achieving this potential. Our recent report identified a lack of funding for services that support donors and charities, low levels of trust in the charities, a lack of direct funding to local charities by international donors and a lack of local giving to charities in emerging markets.

How can we make a difference?

A key means to overcome these barriers is putting in place the infrastructure needed to empower people to use their resources to create change.

Civil society infrastructure organisations encourage high standards through guidance and training, from financial service providers and donor portals which make giving easier, and from trusted sources of information and advice about charities which give donors confidence. We believe that funding this kind of infrastructure is essential, as it could provide the catalyst for a culture of giving which results in a sustainable source of funding for charities.

Sustainable development that promotes equality cannot be achieved without a strong, vibrant and locally supported civil society that can expose abuse, hold politicians to account, drive better policy and provide a pressure gauge for the constructive release of social dissent.