The case for global giving has never been more compelling, says the Australian International Development Network
From responding to urgent humanitarian needs to increasingly interconnected global issues, to greater ‘bang for your buck’, this blog from Australian International Development Network (AIDN) highlights the opportunities of global giving. The piece explores why all Australian donors should consider adding international giving to their portfolio. In other articles in the series, available from AIDN, the organisation calls for a breakdown of the barriers challenging our outbound giving and explores first steps for donors. This article is authored by Mark Cubit (pictured), Emily Umbers and Hannah McNicol.
In Kenya, 35.6% of the population lives in extreme poverty or on less than US$1.90 per day (World Food Program 2023). More than 23 million Kenyan children go to school hungry each day (Global Citizen 2018). This lack of nutrition makes learning extremely difficult and creates a profoundly unequal education system. In this context, and after obtaining a degree from the University of South Australia, in 2012 32-year-old Wawira Njiru founded Food4Education. Today, Food4Education is feeding Africa’s future and has led to improved nutrition, school attendance, performance and higher high school transition rates. The program supplies meals to 150,000 school children a day – with this figure estimated to grow to 400,000 after a recent partnership was announced with Nairobi County (The Guardian 2023).
In Sihanoukville, Cambodia, 7,424km from Kenya, Maggie Eno was unable to turn a blind eye to vulnerable children sleeping under the ‘Tapang’ tree. In 2003, she co-founded M’Lop Tapang in order to fill the huge gap in services to children and youth who were living on the streets, unprotected and vulnerable to exploitation. Today, M’Lop Tapang provides holistic services to more than 5,000 children and youth, 2,500 families and their community with 210 local Cambodian staff.
Food4Education and M’Lop Tapang are just two of thousands, if not tens-of-thousands, of stories that demonstrate the innovative and deeply impactful work being done beyond Australian shores to address inequality. Indeed, there is an increasingly compelling case for global giving or for Australian donors to add international giving to their portfolio.
Many of the issues our world faces today are inherently global in nature and no country lives in a vacuum. While COVID-19 originated overseas, it quickly became apparent that unless Australia strived for global vaccine equity, Australia’s own health system would crumble. Climate change has only reinforced this message. It has been shown that the lowest emitters will be hit hardest by climate change due to the actions (or inaction) of high-income countries. We now know that women in low-income countries will also be disproportionately impacted by climate change (Scotland 2020, The Guardian). Climate change will also impact our own shores – with food sources threatened, extreme weather, and increased immigration as numbers of climate refugees rise. By supporting international organisations, Australian donors can contribute to addressing these pressing global issues and make a positive impact on a larger scale.
In recent years, the geopolitical environment has also become uncertain and Australia has witnessed the rise of new powers in the Pacific. This has resulted in aid taking a more prominent role in Australia’s foreign policy in order to foster regional allegiances, peace and security. However, as many of our regional neighbours face serious issues such as rising poverty and gender inequality there is also an inherent, moral argument for Australians to increase global giving (McNicol, 2023). In fact, urgent needs abroad are only on the rise. It is estimated that a record 339 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2023 (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2022).
Australia must also reflect on our own unique economic privileges and how this should impact our relations with other nations. Latest estimates suggest that the wealthiest 10% of people in the world own 76% of total wealth (Christensen, Lelourec, Development Initiatives 2023). The COVID-19 pandemic further contributed to a rise in the unequal distribution of wealth and in high-income countries, like Australia, billionaires doubled their wealth during the COVID pandemic (Forbes, 2022). In this context, Evelyn Omala from Partners For Equity, believes that the narrative of ‘Should I give internationally?’ must shift urgently to ‘How can I give internationally?’.
Finally, a further aspect to consider is that when you give overseas you get a greater ‘bang for your buck’. This does not mean neglecting domestic causes, but rather recognising that donations to effective organisations in low-income countries can achieve significant results with fewer dollars. This is the basis of renowned philosopher Peter Singer’s A Life You Can Save. For example, at St Judes in Tanzania, it costs $2,880 (AUD) to sponsor a student’s education and ensure three meals a day for one year. Outcomes include 97% of the graduates at St Judes moving on to tertiary education. In Australia, a similar level of (private) education costs up to $35,000 a year. You could also fund a more basic education in Africa or Asia for around $500 a year. This cost-benefit equation should take place when Australians are contemplating their donor portfolio. Donors can still align their global giving with the domestic causes they care about, for example education or women’s health, but can simultaneously diversify their investments and witness the extended impact of overseas giving. It is also a unique opportunity for cross-cultural exchange and to learn more about how innovators beyond our shores are creatively addressing social issues.
At AIDN, we believe in ‘more’ and ‘better’ giving to development outcomes. In particular, we believe that there is a compelling case for global giving as it becomes increasingly clearer that the issues we face domestically are inherently cross-border in nature.
This piece is authored by Mark Cubit, Emily Umbers and Hannah McNicol and the series is based on AIDN’s three-part flagship series The Compelling Case for Global Giving. Parts 2 and 3 of the series can be found on AIDN’s website. Mark and his family have been active in international philanthropy since 2005, having supported more than 200 NGOs in over 38 countries. He will be speaking with Philanthropy Australia’s New Gen Network in Melbourne on 31 October. Registration for the event is open.