Foundations and philanthropists worldwide are helping to advance the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, according to a study by The Bridgespan Group, with $42.4 billion of philanthropic giving between 2000 and 2016.
The study, Philanthropy Bets Big on Global Sustainable Development Goals, shows that an international roster of foundations and philanthropists have sought to accelerate progress on social issues targeted by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Bridgespan Group found that the majority of 90 leading US and international philanthropists gave $10 million or more each between 2000 and 2016 in areas that aligned with the SDGs, which were introduced in 2016, collectively deploying $42.4 billion over the report’s 17-year timeframe.
Excluding the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Gates Foundation, which gives six times more money than the next largest global funder according to Bridgespan, donations of $10 million or more from 51 funders went primarily to SDGs in four broad areas—health, education, gender equality, and environmental issues:
- Funding for global health attracted 364 grants totalling $21.2 billion. The Gates Foundation dominated this category with 300, exceeding $14 billion.
- Funders invested $3.5 billion in 35 grants targeting quality education, with the vast majority of the money going towards implementing and scaling access to quality educational opportunities, specifically building public schools and universities, and investing in teachers and school leaders.
- 12 funders in Bridgespan’s database made 82 grants in gender equality, totalling nearly $3.3 billion since 2000. Gates accounted for almost half, giving $1.4 billion. The majority of the funds went to scaling effective programmes.
- Twenty-six funders made 75 grants related to energy, the environment, and climate change, totalling $5.8 billion.
Overall, grants targeting innovations accounted for nearly a third of the $42.4 billion, while more than half went to implement and scale solutions that work. 10% fell into the category of ‘collaborating to finish the job’, which, the report says, often requires system change, while advocating for policy change accounted for 5%.
Kim Odgen, a Bridgespan partner and co-author of the study, said:
“The UN estimates a need for new global funding topping $2.5 trillion each year, and philanthropy has a critical role to play in closing this funding gap. In addition to bringing much-needed money, philanthropists have a unique ability to innovate, take risks, and build collaborations. This study offers an overview of how philanthropists have supported SDGs and provides insight into how big bets can achieve large-scale social change.”
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