CAF America Hosts Diaspora Philanthropy Summit

On November 2nd-3rd, CAF America had the immense honor of hosting its Diaspora Philanthropy Summit at the organizational headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. With CAF Canada and Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies African Studies Center as partners, the Summit brought together representatives from diaspora groups from across the world and served as an incubator for diaspora philanthropic giving models. Representatives of diaspora groups, foundations, associations, charities, universities, corporations, and government agencies came together under one roof with the intent of sharing experiences and knowledge, with the ultimate goal of improving their models for diaspora philanthropy.

With the forum representing Albanian, Australian, Bulgarian, Chadian, Colombian, Ghanaian, Hmong, Indian, Irish, Jamaican, Mexican, and South African diasporas, the conversations were very engaging and inspiring. Also attending the Summit were CAF America’s sister-offices CAF Southern Africa, Good2Give from Australia, and BCause based out of Bulgaria. It was a privilege to host our colleagues from across the globe.

Diaspora Philanthropy Summit Collage

The Summit focused on the models that diaspora groups can use to build engagement within their own diaspora and fundraise from their diaspora with the ultimate aim of supporting the development of their home communities through  philanthropy. Within the framework of expert-lead presentations, the attendees rolled up their sleeves as the core sessions of the Summit focused on the attendees presenting their models, discussing common challenges and identifying solutions pertaining to the three pillars of the event: engagement, fundraising, and philanthropy.

The conversations and brainstorming were encouraged by the ideas, expertise and stories shared by Kingsley Aikins of Diaspora Matters, who inspired the attendees to action by providing clear practical advice on building diaspora engagement and fundraising; by Nicholas Bassey of USAID, who brought to the group’s attention the historical role diasporas have and are continuing to play within the development of our society; by Dr. Daivi Rodima-Taylor of Boston University’s African Studies Center, who addressed the delicate issues faced by diasporas from post conflict countries; Dr. James Allen of Chevron, who highlighted the corporation’s commitment to facilitating diaspora engagement recognizing the power of diaspora philanthropy in helping grassroots organizations build a more sustainable funding mechanism; and by Jessie Krafft of CAF America, who discussed the applicability of the various mechanisms for giving internationally.

The Summit reinforced our common belief in diaspora philanthropy as a significant force that can impact communities around the world and tackle issues that matter locally while using global resources to do so. CAF America is committed to enabling diaspora philanthropy and working with diaspora groups to achieve their philanthropic goals.

 

Celebrating Bangladesh in Washington, D.C.

CAF America and the Diaspora Gives Bangladesh program recently had the great honor of being the guests of the Embassy of Bangladesh in Washington D.C. In line with our commitment to assist the Bangladeshi diaspora and other US donors to support causes they care about through philanthropic donations directed towards Bangladesh, CAF America joined the Bangladeshi Embassy and Embassy Series in organizing a  Celebration of Bangladesh. The event offered the participants the opportunity to honor the culture and traditions of Bangladesh, while reflecting upon the power of diaspora philanthropy.

Bangladesh Finance Minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, and His Excellency, Ambassador Mohammad Ziauddin and his wife, Yasmeen Ziauddin, CAF America President & CEO, Ted Har

Bangladesh Finance Minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, and His Excellency, Ambassador Mohammad Ziauddin and his wife, Yasmeen Ziauddin, CAF America President & CEO, Ted Hart

The celebration began with the arrival of Bangladesh Finance Minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, followed by remarks from his Excellency, Ambassador Mohammad Ziauddin. The evening continued with CAF America President & CEO, Ted Hart presenting the Diaspora Gives Bangladesh program, a philanthropic initiative designed by CAF America to facilitate tax-effective charitable donations to high-impact local charities in Bangladesh working on variety of causes. Recognizing the power of diaspora, Ted Hart remarked, “Bangladesh has been no stranger to adversity, however, facing these adversities together has given Bangladeshis a camaraderie; unique in its resilience and appreciation for one another, no matter where you are in the world.”

Guests were then treated to a true Celebration of Bangladesh; traditional Bangla dance troupes from Bangladesh and the United States – dancers from the Shilpakala Academy of Bangladesh and Shirtee Nrittyangon a dance troupe from the greater D.C. area –  led viewers on a journey through the country’s rich history, all to a custom painted backdrop depicting a rural scene in Bangladesh which filled the entire stage, courtesy of the Embassy of Bangladesh.

After the entrancing dance routines and music, over 100 guests enjoyed traditional Bangladeshi cuisine and great conversations.

Throughout the night, current issues in Bangladesh were discussed, including the ongoing Rohingya crisis and how carefully vetted charities have the power to make a unique difference by providing support.

We must remember that while continuing to celebrate Bangladesh, its people, culture and history, there is real work that has to be done to help lift a nation of millions into a new era of prosperity. The Bangladeshi diaspora and other friends of Bangladesh can do so by choosing to support with their charitable donations carefully vetted organizations who through their work have local impact on a variety of important causes.

Members of the Shristee Nrittyangon dance troupe

Members of the Shristee Nrittyangon dance troupe

To learn more about philanthropic efforts in Bangladesh, visit our vetted organizations page.

Diaspora Gives Bangladesh at Fobana 2017

Fobana Collage

In the past month, the Diaspora Gives Bangladesh team had the great honor to join the 31st Annual Convention of the Federation of Bangladeshi Organizations in North America(FOBANA) in Miami, Florida. During the Convention, we had the pleasure of engaging in meaningful conversations with Bangladeshi diaspora from all over North America who shared their opinions about the most pressing issues where philanthropy can make a difference.

Since its inception in 1987, FOBANA (Federation of Bangladeshi Associations in North America) has been recognized as an umbrella organization where Bangladeshi diasporans from the US and Canada gather to celebrate their heritage and culture. The participants’ interest in supporting their home communities in a philanthropic capacity was truly inspiring and we were thrilled to see the genuine enthusiasm at the prospect of being able to give to trusted organizations in Bangladesh which have been carefully vetted.

A recurring talking point at the convention was the current Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh. There was a great amount of sympathy shown and the participants along with the leadership at FOBANA welcomed the opportunity provided by the DGB online portal  to directly contribute to relieving the situation for both Bangladeshi citizens and the affected Rohingya in a simple, safe, and effective manner.

The “Business Power Lunch” hosted by the organizers provided further opportunities for us to discuss philanthropic giving with the diasporans. The commitment of the Diaspora Gives Bangaldesh program to support the philanthropic efforts of those who wish to contribute to the development of their home communities as well as our belief that one’s success in the United States can resonate back to Bangladesh was well received and, more importantly, prompted conversations about issue areas personally important to FOBANA attendees.  

We would like to extend our gratitude to the leadership of FOBANA as well as the participants  for welcoming us to join this powerful event. Learn more about diaposra philanthropy in Bangladesh at www.diagives.org

Making a Difference with Bangladeshi Doctors

What appeals to the hearts of the physicians of Bangladesh Medical Association of North America (BMANA)? For those of us who assume that heath is their only concern, you may be a bit surprised.

During the Diaspora Gives Bangladesh team’s two-day visit with the attendees of the 37th Annual BMANA Convention in Orlando, Florida, we were greatly inspired by the vigor with which the attendees talked about Bangladesh. We had the pleasure to meet BMANA members, physicians and their families all united through their ties to Bangladesh. We had conversations that lasted longer and were more enlightening than we ever could have hoped. It was their passion that invigorated us and we left the convention with a renewed sense of urgency — to help these members of the Bangladeshi diaspora give back.

Physicians from across the United States, from Texas to New York to North Carolina, surprised us by their answers to one specific question: “What issues in Bangladesh need the most support in your opinion?” While most of our conversation partners highlighted more than one issue area, the most common by a mile was “Quality Education”, otherwise known as the 4th goal of the Sustainable Development Goals. We were a bit surprised — we fully expected that a group of hundreds of doctors would pick “Good Health and Well-being” (Goal 3). One of the attendees, quickly summarized the reasoning: “staying alive is important, yes, but you can only improve your situation through education”.

In addition to Education and Health, the physicians and their families expressed their interest to support initiatives related to Gender Equality (Goal 5), Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6), and Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (Goal 16).

We were pleased to see such a diversity of interests at BMANA, which is why the organizations featured on diagives.org cover a wide array of activities that can help Bangladeshis of all ages not only survive, but thrive. From providing basic needs to offering access to quality education to fighting climate change, the organizations on diagives.org are all dedicated to improving the future of all Bangladeshis. As this program progresses, we hope that you, the Bangladeshi diaspora, recommend new organizations for us to  be featured on the site.

Thank you, again, to the members of BMANA and we hope we can continue to learn from you.

Dollars to Rupees: When Diaspora Interests and Corporate Philanthropy Align

Over the past decade, international corporate philanthropy has undergone a significant transformation. Overseas gifts by U.S.-based companies were once made only in the face of natural disasters or violent conflicts. However, the globalization of business and the burgeoning zeitgeist that corporations must not only do well – but also do good – has led influential business leaders to support ongoing, more strategic initiatives in developing countries.

For instance, with an eye toward being better global citizens, many corporations have rolled out employee giving programs, whereby the company pledges to match donations made by employees to organizations of their choosing, domestic or foreign. Such programs serve to greatly broaden the scope of a corporation’s philanthropic vision in addition to addressing the individual concerns of its employees. One of the factors driving this trend is the increasing prevalence of CEOs from diaspora populations at the helm of some of the U.S.’s wealthiest corporations. As prominent members of robust diaspora communities, these figures are uniquely situated to have a profound impact on both the culture of corporate giving and the future of their home countries. When the strategic business goals of corporations align with the interests of a diaspora, the results are dedicated development programs that aim at long-term solutions.

One such significant diaspora community in the U.S. is the Indian diaspora. At an estimated figure of 3.8 million people, the Indian diaspora in the U.S. represents a small, yet influential minority amongst the estimated 25-30 million Indians living away from their ancestral homeland. A great deal of that influence is drawn from members of the Indian community who have achieved success and notoriety not only by leading Fortune 500 companies, but also steering those companies toward social responsibility programs that finance development in South Asia. Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Sundar Pichai (Google), Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo), and Ajay Banga (MasterCard) are all Indian-born CEOs of powerful American companies who have been able to demonstrate how one’s ties to a diaspora community can drive the philanthropic vision of an entire corporation.

Since taking the reins at MasterCard in 2010, one of Banga’s most successful initiatives has been the implementation of the “Purchase with a Purpose” program in Asia. For every dollar spent by cardholders at particular merchants or special events, MasterCard makes a corresponding donation to designated charities in the region. Thus far, this program has raised millions of dollars for organizations in India, Bhutan, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and a number of other South Asian countries. In 2008, two years after becoming both the first non-U.S. born and first female CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi authorized a $6 million grant from the PepsiCo Foundation to The Earth Institute’s Columbia Water Center (CWC). The CWC’s aim is to address problems caused by drought and water shortages worldwide. To date, CWC has provided access to clean drinking water for over 3 million people, primarily in India, China, and Mali. Under Nooyi’s guidance, PepsiCo intends to continue to back CWC initiatives that seek to provide clean water to an additional 3 million people by the end of this year.

Nadella and Pichai head global corporations based in Silicon Valley – the epicenter of innovation, and also Indian diaspora success. It should come as no surprise then, that during a recent visit to the U.S., Indian PM Narendra Modi seized the opportunity to garner both Nadella and Pichai’s support of Digital India – a program designed to ensure that essential government services can be made available to India’s citizens electronically by bolstering the country’s internet infrastructure. Shortly after his meeting with PM Modi, Pichai announced that Google would support Digital India by wiring 400 railway stations with high-speed, Wi-Fi internet access. Additionally, Pichai announced that Google would provide ongoing support moving forward, such as offline access to Google services and low-cost Chromebooks, as a step toward getting all of India’s 1.2 billion people connected to the internet. This pledge marks Pichai’s first major initiative since being named CEO in August 2015. He is representative of both the diaspora spirit of giving back and the developmental influence that diaspora members can wield when piloting large corporations.

Satya Nadella’s pledge went even further than Pichai’s, as he unveiled Microsoft’s plan to use India as its hub for cloud services, including the development of data centers across India that will create thousands of jobs. Nadella also promised that Microsoft would continue to work with the Indian government in an effort to bring broadband internet to over 500,000 Indian villages in the near future. Nadella’s own sentiment reflects the importance of engaging members of the diaspora, especially those who are C-level executives: “We believe low-cost broadband connectivity coupled with the scale of cloud computing and the intelligence that can be harnessed from data can help drive creativity, efficiency and productivity across governments and businesses of all size. This, in turn, will create global opportunities for India”.

The pledges made by both Nadella and Pichai, and the initiatives funded by Nooyi and Banga, demonstrate the impactful role corporations can play in diaspora philanthropy. The relationships between corporate leaders like Nadella, Pichai, Nooyi, and Banga, the corporations they lead, and the populations they represent will play an increasingly important role in the ongoing engagement and organization of diaspora communities, and the global impact they can create.

Trends in Diaspora Giving and Global Impact

Diaspora giving is not a novel idea or an emerging movement. Recent technological innovations however, have made it easier than ever for donors to support causes in their countries of origin. Historically, it has been common for immigrants and their descendants to maintain close ties to their native communities by sending money to family members or to their hometown or village. The new brand of diaspora philanthropy is currently evolving to broaden both the scope and volume of cross-border support.

One driving force behind the global increase in diaspora giving is the relative ease with which highly skilled workers and talented entrepreneurs now move about in the global community. Increasingly, nations have been willing to facilitate the immigration of extremely successful individuals in order to foster local progress. This has resulted in the steady growth of wealthy diaspora populations which leads to more cross-border gifts. A second motivating factor is the relative ubiquity of the Internet and email services. In past generations, the difficult nature of cross-border communication proved to be an obstacle for many middle and lower income migrants looking to maintain a strong connection to their original communities. Even if recent immigrants were able to maintain contact, the relationship would often end in subsequent generations as descendants became more assimilated. Technological progress has made international communication significantly easier, bolstering the ability of both international and domestic NGOs to cultivate relationships with diaspora communities spread across the globe. Building and sustaining these relationships, however, is contingent upon harnessing the power of remittances.

Remittances, or transfers of money from diaspora members to individuals in their home countries, have grown steadily in recent years, and there is an expectation for this trend to continue. Once believed to comprise only small gifts made by first generation migrants, contributions made by expatriates now amount to more than triple the global aid provided by governments worldwide. As discussed above, this is likely the result of technological advancements that have made it easier to send and receive money across borders.

While more foreign gifts than ever may be entering the developing world, unfortunately they seem not to achieve their full potential impact, which is most often limited to the boundaries of specific households. Those who receive remittances tend to use the funds to meet individual needs, spending it on food, housing, or health care. This money can be life-altering for the households that it reaches, highlighting the importance of scaling up the impact of diaspora giving from the household to the country level. For the diaspora members looking to achieve a broader and more sustainable impact, foreign NGOs can play an important role in assisting in their efforts to reach local NGOs that have a proven track record of successful programs addressing social issues that affect these communities at a larger scale.

Increased awareness of the large role that diaspora communities can play in sustainable development programs has resulted in a surge in the number of organizations looking to engage with these communities. Recently, a number of nations have partnered with organizations based in the U.S. in order to promote a higher level of cooperation between INGOs and wealthier diaspora populations. The Aspen Institute Diaspora Investment Alliance recently announced a partnership with the Commission on Filipinos Overseas that will result in the roll-out of the Philippine Philanthropic Fund later this year. The primary goal of the fund is to attract tax-advantaged donations from members of the Filipino diaspora in the U.S. in an attempt to catalyze the efforts of NGOs in the Philippines. The ability to target and engage diaspora populations across the globe is integral to the implementation of high impact social projects, especially in developing countries. With similar initiatives soon to be launched in Colombia, Egypt, Kenya, and India, the future of diaspora giving is becoming clearer. Sustainable relationships between INGOs and diaspora communities, often formed with the help of intermediary organizations in countries where diasporas reside, allow INGOs to reap the full benefits of the trends that have led to a global increase in cross-border giving.

Members of diaspora communities view giving to their countries of origin as more than just a kind gesture. Rather, it is a way for expatriates to send the message to relatives and former countrymen that their idea of home includes both country of residence and community of birth. Technological innovations have provided diaspora members with the opportunity to send this message more loudly. With the help of organizations in their host countries, diaspora members can continue to exploit these innovations and enjoy a greater impact abroad. Engaging these populations will not only lead to longer relationships between diaspora members and their native communities, but also to the creation of bonds between diaspora NGOs and INGOs. These partnerships are essential if sustainable impact and development are to be enjoyed in emerging countries.