2014 publications

Future World Giving - Building Trust in Charitable Giving

‘Future World Giving: Building Trust in Charitable Giving’ highlights government policies which are either helping or undermining the efforts of not-for-profit organisations to earn public trust.

The report highlights some extremely worrying trends around the world and states that regressive policies towards charities and an atmosphere of suspicion among governments risks undermining public trust and threatens to stifle the growth of charitable giving.

Building Trust in Charitable Giving warns that government-fuelled suspicion of not-for-profit organisations could jeopardise efforts to promote giving among new generations of middle class people emerging across the world, which could contribute up to $224 billion a year to good causes by 2030.

The report finds that many countries such as Belarus, Uganda and Kenya are adopting increasingly bureaucratic procedures for not-for-profit organisations seeking official registration – preventing charities from obtaining the legal status they need to carry out their work.

Governments in Algeria, Egypt and Russia have singled out charities that receive foreign funds for additional scrutiny with Russia legislating to compel such not-for-profits to register as ‘foreign agents’ – potentially undermining confidence in charities and stifling international giving.

In countries such as Uzbekistan and China, governments retain control of charities by establishing ‘government organised non-governmental organisations’. These organisations are not given the space to earn the trust of the public through their actions and have been involved in various scandals in which the State has recycled unused donations to other projects, damaging the image of charities.

Even in countries with progressive legislation governing the not-for-profit sector, such as South Africa, a failure to work with and respond to the advice of not-for-profit organisations has led to regulatory mismanagement in recent years.

Whilst recognising that policies should be responsive to national context, the report is able to offer a set of universal recommendations to policy makers which if followed, will help to build public trust in charity. These recommendations for governments include:

  • Ensure that everyone is legally entitled to register a charity without discrimination.
  • Reduce red tape for smaller not-for-profits whilst maintaining regulatory focus on larger organisations
  • Allow not-for-profits to access foreign funds and engage in international association without discrimination

We believe that if government policies towards charities and charitable giving are measured against the recommendations in this report, it could be a powerful advocacy tool. We aim to challenge everyone who supports civil society to popularise these universal standards and call for changes to meet them.

The report is part of the Future World Giving project details policy trends around the world and attempts to create a universal policy framework that if followed by government, would create an enabling environment for giving.

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