According to the brand-new SDG Foundation Giving Estimates Paper, $651 billion in philanthropic giving for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could potentially be unlocked by 2030. This accounts for a whopping $286 billion more than the $365 billion in philanthropic giving for the SDGs that was initially estimated back in 2016. In this blog, titled “The SDGPP: Unlocking the Full Potential of Philanthropy for the SDGs”, Marcos Neto (Director, UNDP SDG Finance Sector Hub) and Benjamin Bellegy (Executive Director, WINGS) present the first findings of the SDG Foundation Giving Estimates Paper and discuss their plans and vision for the future as co-leads of the SDG Philanthropy Platform (SDGPP).
Philanthropy in response to COVID-19 and the SDGs
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the global context for development has fundamentally changed. The world faces the most significant socio-economic shock in a generation, coming at a time of severe inequality, ecological fragility, and growing distrust within and amongst our societies and institutions. This situation makes the achievement of the SDGs even more urgent. However, delivering on these goals won’t come cheap. According to the OECD, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, developing countries are facing an additional shortfall of USD $1.7 trillion (1) on top of the $2.5 trillion (2) gap in financing they would need this year to keep them on track for the 2030 SDGs. Government and the private sector have the deepest pockets and, no doubt, will shoulder the largest financial burden. But they cannot do the job alone. Philanthropy also has a critical role to play in achieving the SDGs. It is a well-positioned strategic actor with significant financial resources, technical knowledge and expertise, and an excellent network that can contribute to and scale up sustainable development efforts. To ensure that achieving the Global Goals is not a pipe dream, UNDP and WINGS are working together, within the framework of the SDGPP, to mobilize and unlock philanthropic giving for the SDGs.
From 365 billion to 651 billion
One of the SDGPP’s crowning achievements is the creation of the SDGfunders.org website to provide data and valuable insights to help understanding of foundations funding trends to the SDGs. In 2016, based on SDGfunders.org, Candid estimated that philanthropic giving for the SDGs between 2016 and 2030 – the 15 years covered by the SDG campaign - would amount to at least $365 billion. However, based on current data and more recent estimates, we now know that philanthropic giving for the SDGs between 2016 and 2020 already amounted to a total of $217 billion. This trend leads us to believe that $651 billion in philanthropic giving for the SDGs could potentially be unlocked by 2030 if we unleash the full potential of philanthropy for development. This accounts for a whopping $286 billion more than the $365 billion in philanthropic specific giving that was initially estimated back in 2016. The overall capability is even greater if individual giving and the potential of grassroots philanthropy is added to this configuration.
The SDGPP: An enabler of catalytic philanthropic capital?
The increased actual and projected giving is an outstanding achievement by philanthropy. The SDGPP and partners have raised global awareness of the SDGs within the philanthropic sector, which is in-part evidenced by the numerous High Level side events organized by foundations on the role of philanthropy in the recovery from COVID-19 and the achievement of the SDGs, at the 2021 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF).
Achieving the increased goal in SDG giving will not be an easy task and has already required significant efforts by many, including the SDGPP, to support policy, shift donor thinking, unlock capital and educate on the SDGs. Philanthropic dollars can not only act as additional funding but, if enabled in the right way, can unlock, and contribute to leveraging additional funding sources, ensuring money is genuinely catalytic in nature.
The SDGPP is a necessary enabler and facilitator to continue this progress both in terms of increasing volumes and new and broader approaches to philanthropy. Additionally, the SDGPP is perfectly positioned and committed to facilitate the unlocking $100 billion of this additional $286 billion. The time to act, for people and for planet, is now. We invite everyone to come together, join our mission, utilize our platform, and help us achieve these ambitious goals!
Photo credit: Noah Buscher on Unsplash.