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Rethinking Philanthropy

October 24, 2017

On October 11, 2017, RPA co-sponsored a forum entitled Rethinking Philanthropy. This day-long forum gathered more than 25 high-level speakers – philanthropists, entrepreneurs, leaders from other sectors, and academic and development experts – to debate the main innovations, successes, challenges, and the limits of today’s philanthropy. The forum focused on philanthropy’s role in international development, legacy philanthropy vs. next gen philanthropy, big bets in philanthropy, and impact investing.

During a session entitled “The missing development trillions: will philanthropists foot the bill?” Marcos Neto, Director of the UNDP’s International Center for Private Sector in Development, and David Evans, Chief of Global Philanthropy at UNICEF, discussed the importance of philanthropy and its role in implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Currently, eight billion dollars a year goes towards international development efforts – and that number is estimated to skyrocket to 365 billion dollars through 2030. Philanthropy represents just a small portion of that, but can play an outsized role in achieving the goals.

Neto and Evans emphasized that, unlike the government and private sector, philanthropy has the flexibility to be innovative and risk-taking, which means it has a very important role in achieving the SDGs. However, given the small portion it represents, philanthropy has to serve as a catalyst, working to leverage other resources in order to make maximum impact.

This discussion highlights the work of RPA’s SDG Philanthropy Platform (SDGPP), led by Heather Grady, Vice President of Global Philanthropy. In partnership with the UNDP and Foundation Center, the SDGPP is a way to bring government, civil society organizations, individuals and philanthropy together in order to work with one another and help bring about the execution of the SDGs. With a $2.5 trillion funding gap and an amplified need for innovation, philanthropy will have a critical role to play in the realization of the SDGs. By joining in collaborative partnerships with government and gaining a seat at the table to engage in national development plans, philanthropy can scale its impact for more sustainable change.

For more information on the SDGPP, visit


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