Saturday, April 15, 2006

Egelund: It's not foreign aid unless it goes into my pretty little hands

The assumption that "aid" has to be official (government to government or via UN organizations) ignores the idea of subsidarity: That aid is most efficient and humane when it goes from small organizations to people via other small organizations.

Barone points out that Egelund ignores this:

Hudson Institute research tallied over $35 billion in private foreign aid for 2000 (the last year such figures were tabulated). That's three and one-half times U.S. government aid for that year. And even this large amount low-balls American contributions abroad, as it does not include giving by local U.S. churches or donations by overseas affiliates of U.S. corporations.

The common measure used by the U.N. and European countries–the percent of gross national income used for foreign aid–counts only government foreign aid. It does not fully take into account private giving for those in need abroad. This "donor performance measure" may have been appropriate when established in the 1950s, but it is outmoded today. For it omits the overwhelming growth in international private philanthropy.

The 2004 Foundation Center publication, International Grantmaking III, reports that international foundation giving grew much faster than overall giving between 1998 and 2002. The share of dollars for international causes has also risen to 14 percent of total foundation giving, up from 11 percent in 1998. The funding outlook for U.S. foundation giving remains strong, and half of all American corporate givers plan increases.

Adelman reports that American private contributions to charitable relief totaled at least $324 million, with many religious and other organizations' contributions not included. And she makes the case for private giving:

In essence, foreign aid is privatizing–just as transportation, energy and telecommunications have been privatized in many parts of the world. As economic growth has increased in developing nations, so have local charities, business philanthropy and community foundations.

There is a lot to say for private giving. For too long, commitment to the poor abroad has been measured by how much is spent, rather than how well. Private giving is usually faster, more nimble, more direct and accountable. It uses less overhead than expensive government consultants, and can better avoid interference by corrupt officials in countries afflicted by natural disasters, such as tsunamis and earthquakes.

By needing to raise their own funds and volunteers, private philanthropy stands a kind of market test, which is not required by unelected government and international bureaucrats.

No comments:

Free hit counters
Free hit counters