The diversity of Middle Eastern fundraising

March 10, 2015       The NonProfit Times      

 Anyone reading the news lately might not think of the Arab world as a wellspring of philanthropic thought, but it should be remembered that the Middle East is a diverse area, with many people.

During the 2014 International Fundraising Congress (IFC), Christopher Carnie of Factary, Reem Amr Abdelhamid of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Hala Abdelwahab of the KAICIID Dialogue Centre, Fadwa Ghanoun of the American Community School at Beirut and Rania Farouk of Bibliotheca Alexandria said that fundraising in the Arab-speaking world can be a great source.

Such a project requires being aware of certain considerations, however. For example:

  • Each country in the region has its own traditions and structures of philanthropy;
  • Philanthropy in the region is distinct and needs to be considered through a different lens than simply a Western viewpoint;
  • It’s all about relationships with key individuals;
  • Connections and networks are important;
  • It’s important to consider the political concerns and interests of the country an organization is working in;
  • Leading individuals might have multiple motivations;
  • Think of mutual benefit and partnerships, or “How will our work benefit people in the region?”;
  • It’s not an ATM, so don’t treat the region as though it’s a cash machine;

Recent trends include: growth of foundations, an international/global perspective, wealth creation, strategic philanthropy and, since the Arab Spring of 2011-12, the importance of civil society.