Through Better Giving, Improving Lives

Jul 14, 2015

As the fasting month of Ramadhan – a time of introspection and good works – comes to a close, it seems appropriate to reflect on the ways we can better strive to help those who need it most.

Philanthropists in Indonesia have been working hard to do just that, directing essential funds toward initiatives that support education, good governance, and sustainable agriculture, among others.

According to the Indonesian NGO Public Interest Research and Advocacy Center, philanthropic support in the country totals IDR 700 billion (US$53 million) per month. This is a remarkable figure, and reveals the amount of giving in a lower middle-income country where approximately 28 million people live below the poverty line.

That giving includes a rising number of Islamic philanthropy organizations that use zakat to improve social welfare. According to the National Alms Agency, which keeps financial records on zakat agencies, annual collections increased from IDR 68.4 billion (US$5.1 million) in 2002 to IDR 3.2 trillion (US$240 million) in 2014. Dhompet Dhuafa, one of the nation’s largest independent zakat organizations, has used its donations to establish health facilities and anti-poverty programs, and its projects and those of others like it have helped millions of Indonesians.

Philanthropy in Indonesia is clearly upping its game. At this moment, even more efforts should be made to direct resources to the common objective of alleviating poverty and supporting sustainable development.

At a recent event in support of philanthropic partnerships sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and associates, Franciscus Welirang, one of the founders of the Association of Philanthropy Indonesia (PFI), said, “Philanthropy is sharing our private resources for public benefit. Those private resources could be money, goods, ideas, or any sort of participation.”

It is through better coordination of public and private resources and by cultivating more strategic partnerships that we can reach even more of those in need. With philanthropists having the advantage of greater operating freedom and greater capacity for innovation, their role is crucial to achieving both national and global development goals.

The sorts of projects philanthropists support align with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the target of alleviating extreme poverty in its many forms. As the MDG target date of 2015 draws to a close and the United Nations finalizes its post-2015 development agenda, this is the time to strengthen opportunities for philanthropists to work together with government, the UN, and civil society to improve the quality of life of Indonesia’s 250 million people.

UNDP with local and international foundations such as PFI, the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and Foundation Center is working to better strive collectively to address the country’s lagging development goals, important issues like maternal mortality, childhood malnutrition, and HIV/AIDS.

We believe philanthropists can play a more active role in the planning and implementation of these goals, and that role can be facilitated in part by making data on philanthropic investments more transparent and improving the legal framework for givers.

Engaging with givers is vital to development success, and through better cooperation between stakeholders both public and private we can ensure that no one is left behind. The term philanthropy itself exemplifies this sentiment, deriving from the Greek words philos meaning love and anthropos meaning human.

Looking forward, we will continue to work so that the selfless giving that embodies the spirit of philanthropy – literally love for humanity – is facilitated, and the gaps in development needs filled.

Giving should support the most marginalized. Giving should be easier to do. Giving should have impact. Working together, we can reduce inequality in Indonesia and around the globe.

Pramoedya Ananta Toer wrote, “Whoever has done humanitarian work will be respected for eternity, not mere fleeting respect. Maybe he won’t obtain success in his lifetime, maybe he won’t have friends, maybe he won’t have even an ounce of power. But humanity will respect him for his services.”

Douglas Broderick is Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Indonesia and the UNDP Resident Representative.

Contact information
Tomi Soetjipto
UNDP Communication Specialist; +62811888814
Deanna Ramsay
UNDP Communication Officer +812 974 18703

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