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Global Institutional Philanthropy: A Preliminary Status Report

Philanthropy is growing and gaining visibility around the world. Private giving has an increasingly important role in addressing human suffering, promoting social justice and equitable economic growth, and strengthening and supporting a broad array of civil society goals and organizations. Yet as a field of study — if indeed it is a “field” of study — global philanthropy is in its infancy. It defies definition at the same time that it provokes interest and inquiry. While many have contributed to our understanding of global giving, it is fair to say that there are no individual or institutional experts. Reliable giving data can be found in only a limited number of countries. Globally comparable data is non-existent. Careful analysis of philanthropic giving through a global lens is hard to find. Given the vast and uncharted landscape of global philanthropy, any effort to define its boundaries or describe its contours is likely to be misleading. Such efforts are equally likely to obscure or at least only partially represent the rich diversity and complexity of philanthropy as it is practiced in countries and cultures around the world.

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Copyright 2010 Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS), and Philanthropic Initiative, Inc.