Policymakers must make it easier for UK charities to support international countries in need

New study finds that philanthropists are being held back by over complicated processes.

Increasingly complicated policy barriers are having a progressively negative impact on UK charities efforts to offer international support grants to those most in need.

A new study by the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy (CGAP), whose research is carried out at Bayes Business School, has found that the demanding nature of internal and external policy and compliance processes is a key obstacle in international charities’ and foundations’ attempts to support the most under-served, and in need communities across the world.

Drawing on organisational data published in annual reports and accounts and in-depth interviews among grant-makers working in the context of Muslim philanthropy, report authors Professor Cathy Pharoah, Ikhlaq Hussain and Professor Jenny Harrow argue that policymaking is having to respond to shifts in expectations from new donors and founders. They say charities must also grapple with a stricter regulatory environment and increased scrutiny as to their practices.

The study explains that there has been little impact assessment of the challenges, additional requirements of adapting to customs, capacity and compliance in other countries, and costs placed on the resources of organisations which operate internationally. These include the obstacles faced when charities are attempting to adopt more innovative and potentially sustainable approaches to international aid, and of developing effective partnership models.

With funding support from the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund, the research highlights these challenges and the UK policy contexts in which they arise, and is also designed to better help and inform organisations seeking international aid or partnership from UK-based charities.

The study concludes that sharing experiences and having increased consultation and dialogue around lessons and challenges could lead to more effective, co-ordinated, and simplified policy-making processes. Additionally, international grant-making charities working in Muslim and other contexts need greater opportunities to bring their experience to the table, share knowledge and be fully involved in consultation and change, to maximise their own funding effectiveness.

Professor Pharoah, Co-Director of CGAP, said the need to cut back on red tape is even more urgent because of the accelerating need for philanthropic aid across the globe.

If charities are to reach out further to support remote, poor or under-served communities, they must be able to do so without having one hand tied behind their back.

“While developing countries are wrestling with environmental crises, as well as the widening wealth gap, and cuts to the UK government’s international aid budget, they are being slowed down or hamstrung by demanding protocols that prevent organisations from being more innovative and sustainable in their practices.

“Now is the time for policymaking to better provide for philanthropists, and for government and financial agencies to review how they could ease and encourage the processes for cross-border giving.”

‘International grant-making policy within philanthropy in the UK Muslim context’ by Professor Catherina Pharoah, Visiting Professor of Charity Funding and Co-Director of the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy at Bayes Business School, Professor Jenny Harrow, Professor of Management and Co-Director of the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy at Bayes Business School, and Ikhlaq Hussain,Visiting Lecturer at Bayes Business School can be read in full on the Bayes website.


Notes to Editors

About CGAP

CGAP is a research unit within Bayes Business School which has been carrying out pioneering research on philanthropy, its institutions, trends and outcomes since 2008. Its work is undertaken by Jenny Harrow and Cathy Pharoah, in conjunction with CGAP research associates, visiting fellows and collaborators.

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